After the opening scene of the three witches, the play turns to the battlefield where a Sergeant speaks highly of Macbeth. He says, “For brave Macbeth--well he deserves that name-- /
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,” (1.2.16-17). Macbeth shows courage, bravery, and loyalty, three traits associated with manhood in the traditional sense. Later, these traits will be disjoined from each other and perverted them. (Ramsey 265) Then in scene 3, Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches. Upon encountering them, Banquo says, “You should be women, / And yet your beards forbid me to interpret / That you are so.” (1.3.45-48). The witches are the first example of Shakespeare using gender bending. The witches look like women, but they have beards, which is a manly quality. This seems to represent that they are of both genders, but they are of neither gender. They are supernatural beings, not human. The witches can only prophesy and manipulate with no other purpose but to deceive anyone of their choosing.
Later in the act, Lady Macbeth is introduced, and she is the one who furthers Macbeth’s ...
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... manhood as “naked aggression” they left no room for morals or reasons. So Macbeth went on a killing spree, for his manhood. This play shows how a perverted definition of a concept can cause chaos.
Dash, Irene G. Women’s Worlds in Shakespeare’s Plays. N.p.: University of Delaware Press, 1997. Print.
Gerwig, George William. Shakespeare’s Ideals of Womanhood. N.p.: Kessinger Publishing Company, 1995. Print.
Rackin, Phyllis. Shakespeare and Women. N.p.: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2005. Print.
Ramsey, Jarold. “Gender and Sex Roles.” 1973. Shakespeare for Students. N.p.: Thomas Gale, 1992. 263-269. Print.
Shakespeare, William. MacBeth. Ed. Alan Durband. N.p.: Barron’s Educational Series, 2004. Print. Shakespeare Made Easy.
“Themes, Motifs & Symbols.” SparkNotes. N.p., 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2009.
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