Preview
Preview

Gender Stereotypes and Evil in Macbeth Essay example

:: 6 Works Cited
Length: 1853 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Aqua      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is often seen as a demonic figure whose evil manipulation causes the murder of Duncan. Indeed, gender is a prominent theme in the play. In this essay, I will argue that Macbeth reflects strict gender expectations and that the protagonists are in turn governed and constrained by these stereotypes. Macbeth also reflects a deep mistrust of women in Shakespeare’s society.
With the Renaissance came a rise in education levels in the 16th century among upper and middle class women. Such a phenomenon, accentuated by the ascension of Elizabeth I to the throne as a “great exemplar of feminine achievement” (Shapiro 703), served as the background to a “women’s struggle against their traditional subordinate status on a scale that seemed large to their male contemporaries” (Shapiro 703). Thus, the spirit of educated women of the age was one of struggle for self-expression. Shapiro states that there were enough of such bold, ambitious women dressing up as men (in order to have adventures and to gain education) to warrant attacks in popular literature and even from King James I himself (704). It is clear that the patriarchal society of Elizabethan England had no appetite for women’s ambitions, small as they were to be called anything more than a disorganized struggle.
It is not hard to see the reflection of such a social atmosphere in Macbeth. In many ways, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as ambitious, at times towering over Macbeth – seemingly a reversal of the traditional husband-wife relationship. Macbeth, for instance, recognizes his wife as his equal “partner of greatness” (Macbeth I.v.8). As the subordinate wife, she does not seem to fear her husband but even has the nerve to “chastise” Macbeth for bein...


... middle of paper ...


...Carroll, William C. “Discourses of the Feminine.” William Shakespeare, Macbeth: Texts and Contexts. Ed. William C. Carroll. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 1999. Print.

Chamberlain, Stephanie. “Fantasizing Infanticide: Lady Macbeth and the Murdering Mother in Early Modern England.” College Literature 32.3 (2005): 72-91. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Sep. 2009.

Frye, Roland Mushat. “Macbeth’s Usurping Wife.” Renaissance News 8.2 (1955): 102-105. JSTOR. Web. 13 Sep. 2009.

Kimbrough, Robert. "Macbeth: The Prisoner of Gender." Shakespeare Studies 16 (1983): 175-191. Web. Academic Search Premier. 13 Sep. 2009.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth: Texts and Contexts. Ed. William C. Carroll. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 1999. Print.

Shapiro, Susan C. “Feminists in Elizabethan England.” History Today 27.11 (1977): 703-711. Web. Academic Search Premier. 19 Sep. 2009.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Shakespeare's Portrayal of Women and Sovereign Issues in Macbeth Essay - “Almost without exception, people feel constrained to play roles in accordance with what they believe to be the expectations of others” (Asp). During odd or unnatural events, these stereotypical expectations can be overshadowed and conquered by the intense desire for power or wealth. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Shakespeare alters the physical attributes associated with specific genders in order to illustrate the progression of a character’s actions and thoughts. Throughout history, stereotypical profiles of what a man or woman should be have determined how they are perceived by others....   [tags: william shakespeare, macbeth, duncan]
:: 8 Works Cited
1497 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's Characterisation of Lady Macbeth Essay example - Shakespeare's Characterisation of Lady Macbeth In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a complex character and is used to fluctuate drama levels according to her choices and her unpredictable way of thinking. As the play progresses, Shakespeare employs Lady Macbeth's character to keep the audience constantly engaged by provoking strong emotional responses to her actions through shocking language and dramatic tension. Macbeth was written by Shakespeare during 1606 to 1611. At this time, James I was on the throne....   [tags: Papers] 1661 words
(4.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Compare and Contrast: Two Film Adaptations of Macbeth Essay - April, 2 2014 Perspectives As far as we’re aware, Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606, making it roughly 400 years old and in desperate need of a revival. While setting an adaptation of the play in modern day Melbourne in the midst of a gangland war may have seemed comical a decade ago, with corpses piled high from St Kilda to Sunshine in the real gang war of the Victorian city, it now seems 100% plausible. The difficulty of course, is finding a way to accurately transform noble lords of Scotland into underworld gangsters and still maintain Shakespeare’s true intentions....   [tags: Shakespeare, Play, Adaptations]
:: 5 Works Cited
1398 words
(4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Contrasting Evil and Good in Macbeth - In this essay I will look at the ways that Shakespeare has contrasted evil with good in his play Macbeth. The play revolves around the bad and wicked qualities in human nature, but Shakespeare also contrasts this evil with the power of good. This contrast between good and evil is a recurring theme throughout Macbeth. These contradictions start in the very beginning of the play, with the witches. In Act one, Scene one, line 12, the witches say, “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” This is interesting as they are suggesting good and evil as being one....   [tags: evil, good, macbeth, shakespeare,] 1653 words
(4.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Macbeth: The Evil Within Essay - It is evident from the beginning of the play that Macbeth is sheltering something sinister within him. At that moment, it can only be guessed as to what it is, but as the play moves along this terrible feeling grows and feeds on Macbeth’s paranoia and his disappointment with life as a whole. Macbeth gradually goes on both a literal and figurative life journey, with its disappointments and joys. Strangely, though, Macbeth is not pleased by these accomplishments, and only seeks more. There are multiple characters that either lit the fuse of Macbeth’s ambition, or cut the fuse to make it shorter, thus leading him along the path to evil....   [tags: Macbeth, evil , shakespeare,]
:: 3 Works Cited
1338 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Gender Stereotypes in Fairy Tales - Fairy Tales have been around for generations and generations. Our parents have told us these stories and we will eventually pass them down to ours. In this time of age the most common fairytales are Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and The Beast and many more. Children idolize their favorite character and pretend to be them by mimicking everything they do in the stories. The character’s behavior is what is viewed as appropriate in society. These fairy tales show a girl and a boy fall in love and live “happily ever after”....   [tags: Gender Roles, Fairy Tales]
:: 4 Works Cited
1317 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Gender Roles and Stereotype Effects on College Students - Gender stereotypes are mostly taken for granted at a young age: girls are told to play with dolls and boys are told to play with trucks. But as children grow older they find themselves in a world where the reality of gender roles and stereotypes aren’t acknowledged, and the illusion of gender neutrality is commended. If gender roles are becoming more neutral, then it would follow that gender role stereotypes are also becoming more lax. However, in actuality this is not true. Banerjee and Lintern (2000) examined the salience of children’s preference for toys in private and public settings....   [tags: Gender Stereotypes, Studies]
:: 8 Works Cited
2089 words
(6 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Gender Stereotypes Among Children's Toys Essay - Gender Stereotypes Among Children's Toys       When you walk into the toy section of any store, you do not need a sign to indicate which section is the girls’ side and which section is the boys’ side. Aside from all the pink, purple, and other pastel colors that fill the shelves on the girls’ side, the glitter sticks out a lot as well. The boys’ toys however are mostly dark colors – blue, black, red, gray, or dark green. The colors typically used on either side are very stereotypical in themselves....   [tags: Stereotypes Toys Gender Essays Compare] 514 words
(1.5 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Essay about Gender Stereotypes - Since the beginning of time, gender has played a big role in how one acts and how one is looked upon in society. From a young age children are taught to be either feminine or masculine. Why is it that gender plays a big role in the characteristics that one beholds. For centuries in many countries it has been installed in individual’s heads that they have to live by certain stereotypes. Women have been taught to be feeble to men and depend on them for social and economical happiness. While men have been taught to be mucho characters that have take care of their homes and be the superior individual to a woman....   [tags: Gender roles, Ibsen, Doll's House, Feminism] 1331 words
(3.8 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Gender Stereotypes in Science and Technology Essay - Gender Stereotypes in Science and Technology The experiences we have and the ideas we formulate as children can and do have a tremendous impact on what we do with our lives as adults. One thing that we studied during this course was the differences between toys that boys play with and those that girls play with. When little boys are given things to play with like chemistry sets and erector sets, they are given tools to develop skills like mechanical ability and spatial perception. More importantly, in my opinion, this sets up a stereotype about what activities are suitable for boys and which activities are suitable for girls....   [tags: Media Stereotypes Stereotyping] 1621 words
(4.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]