Macbeth and Manhood Essay

Macbeth and Manhood Essay

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Manhood and its definition is a major theme in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. On first appearance, Macbeth is characterized as a loyal and valiant thane in defense of the honor of Scotland and King Duncan. The brutality that he shows as a warrior on the battlefield is an acceptable and lauded trait. These attributes come into question as the witches introduce the prophecies tempting Macbeth’s vaulting ambition. After the regicide, Macbeth is damned and is no longer concerned with being honorable. He covets immediate gratification at all costs and by all means. However, this gratification is temporary due to that Macbeth later on, experiences guilt and regret which directs him towards his morbid fate and ultimate demise.
The hierarchy portrayed in Macbeth’s society functions as a demonstration of the manliness virtues applauded in the 11th century; an attribute such as one’s loyalty to his king. “The medieval world-imbued with distinct and fixed ranks, the subordination and obedience of the lower to the higher, and a strong sense of plentitude ,purpose ,wholeness , and order in both the temporal and spiritual realms” (Blits 38). A man must be subservient to his king in order to gain a high respect and trust and to be honored a title. Once a thane has achieved his benefits and the king’s trust, the impression of an allegiance of his duty as a protector is then generalized alongside with the people’s praise.
Macbeth depicts the virtue of loyalty to King Duncan notably, as he is honored with the title “Thane of Cawdor.” Macbeth displays his fortitude by risking his life in the capture of the traitor, McDonwald, for King Duncan’s protection. “For Brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name-/Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel...

... middle of paper ...

...e to the hated miscreant. Living a great life, honored, and praised, Macbeth was satisfied however, a high offer to be king had consumed his thoughts and changed his perspective and values. With this, Macbeth developed a far beyond brutishness. Thus, the only aspects of manliness that remained upon him was his loyalty to himself, and the brutality he showed in his desires to kill the king, Banquo, and Macduff’s family. In the end, it was the witches’ prophecies and Macbeth’s strong ambition led to his termination and concluding fate.

Works Cited

Blits, Jan. Shakespearean Criticism. 1st ed.69.Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Group Inc.,
Kimbrough, Robert. Shakespearean Criticism.1st ed.29.Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc., 1996.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York, NY: Barnes & Nobles Inc., 2007.

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