Masculinity In The Elizabethan Era Essay

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The Way of life during the Elizabethan age must be examined in order explain the agency within the concept of masculinity in Macbeth. William Shakespeare uses Macbeth to show the agency that is created for women when men are pushed into proving their own masculinity. In order to fully understand Shakespeare’s portrayal of masculinity in Macbeth we must first examine the stereotypes of the Elizabethan era that effected Shakespeare’s writing. “Defining what a female was supposed to be and do was an act of Renaissance culture, as it has been for other times. For Shakespeare, as well as for most of Renaissance society, women as the feminine represented the following virtues which, importantly, have their meaning in relationship to the male; obedience, silence, sexual chastity, piety, humility, constancy, and patience. However, gender characteristics were socially constructed and there was an easy…show more content…
Macbeth destroyed his own masculinity by doing what his wife and the witches told him, in great contrast to what he believed his actions meant. The witches even inform Macbeth that, “The power of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” (Shakespeare 4.1.96-97). This was the witches method of equivocatiously speaking to Macbeth, which suggests that only a man even more masculine than Macbeth will slay him. We are later informed that Macduff was “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripped” (Shakespeare 5.10.15-16), meaning that Macduff had been cut out of his mother. Since Macduff had been unconventionally born into this world he fulfilled the witches prophecy, however he did come from his mothers womb. Macbeth believed that he was untainted by femininity, which he viewed as vulnerability within many other men. The witches used their masterful equivocation to play on the flaws of Macbeth, who believed in this fantasy of absolute
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