The Conflict Of Gender Roles In Shakespeare's Macbeth

1325 Words6 Pages
History has been shaped by the actions taken in ambition for power. Such is the case in the timeless classic of Macbeth. Honoured playwright, William Shakespeare, authored this infamous text during the Elizabethan era, where a stringently patriarchal society existed as men held authority in political and personal affairs, over their subservient female counterparts. In light of these sociocultural contexts, the gender of characters in Macbeth significantly affects their relationship to power, as female’s access to power is restricted to their control over men. This is clearly evident when considering Macbeth and Lady Macbeth 's conflict of gender roles, including Lady Macbeth 's attempt to fulfil the male role, which leads to their ultimate…show more content…
To the public, Macbeth is a strong warrior, and Lady Macbeth a traditional housewife. In private, Macbeth refers to his wife as “dearest partner of greatness”. This suggests a relationship of equality, rather than domination that was a trademark of the period. This atypical dynamic is further revealed by their conflicting reactions to the witch’s prophecies, as Macbeth’s hesitance to act is contrasted to his wife’s immediate and ambitious devisal of a plan. Though Lady Macbeth is inherently aware her desire, to become Queen of Scotland, will be hindered by her femininity and thus, this must be suppressed. From this realisation arises her infamous plea to the forces of nature, as she…show more content…
This quote further holds significance when considering an argument proposed by Coppelia Kahn; that patriarchal authority was contingent on a male’s ability to secure obedience and subordination from their female counterparts. Therefore, women harnessed power in their ability to validate men’s identities, and bear male heirs to continue the patriarchy. In such an argument, femininity defined masculinity. Moreover, as Lady Macbeth renounces her [previously mentioned] sexuality and as ability to procreate, even going so far as threatening to destroy their child, this would essentially destroy Macbeth’s ability to secure his authority in future

More about The Conflict Of Gender Roles In Shakespeare's Macbeth

Open Document