William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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William Shakespeare's Macbeth

William Shakespeare lived in an era where women possessed few

political and private rights. Women were subjected to the will of men

as men were thought to be greater morally, physically and

intellectually. Shakespeare, as he was living in this hierarchical and

patriarchal world, was subjected to this value system. His powerful

and tragic play Macbeth, reflects aspects of this world but also

challenges the very basis of it's foundations with the use of the

characters, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, the Three Witches and Lady Macduff.

These characters are not necessarily represented as traditional

stereotypical type; this is inputted through the use of role reversal.

It can be found that the representation of status in the Shakespearean

tragedy is much determined by gender conflict. The relative status of

the characters in Macbeth is circulated around the relationship

between the King and Macbeth. This tragic play structure is displayed

through the use of acts and scenes.

Shakespeare pays much regard as to what it is to be a man and to

possess masculine characteristics. Macbeth's masculinity is recognized

and defined by himself and by other, influential people around him.

The challenge against Macbeth's manhood, which upholds the symbolized

male of the Elizabethan era, comes from beyond the military domain

(where he is know to be a “valiant cousin,” and a “worthy gentlemen”

(1, 2, 24). Macbeth is plagued by an imagination, a conscience,

compassion, sensitivity and, in some areas, he acts or thinks to act,

as directed by heart felt emotions - a truly feminine characteristic

at the time. The evil by which Lady ...

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... masculine

characteristics, even to the point where she uses the fact that she is

female to feed her ambitions and desires.

In conclusion, the characters in Macbeth do not follow the

stereotypical gender roles in relation to their status prescribed by

the context in which Shakespeare lived. Instead, both male and female

characters were given elements of each other's sexual characteristics

and as a result are portrayed to be given different representations of

status. This challenged the preconceived notions of gender and posed

the question 'what is it to be a man?' and 'what is it to be

masculine?' The play Macbeth does this. However, while it supports in

some areas, the hierarchical and patriarchal realities of the world in

which Shakespeare lived, it also creates a unique reality of gender

construction and role.

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