Manhood in The Tragedy of Macbeth Essay

Manhood in The Tragedy of Macbeth Essay

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In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, he uses the theme of manhood to create motives for characters to act like a man. This is seen in many occurrences in Macbeth where characters try to act like men for certain reasons. Characters that apply this action are Macbeth, the first murderer, Macduff, and Young Siward. These actions are seen throughout the play, and play a key role in the development of the performance.
Macbeth tells himself to act like a man in the following lines: “Prithee, peace! / I dare do all that may become a man; / Who dares do more is none” (I, vii, 45-47). This quote by Macbeth shows how he wants to be a man by killing King Duncan, but he does not think this would be an act of righteousness. Macbeth is in a controversy with himself in this situation. If he does not kill the king then his wife, Lady Macbeth, will not think he is a man, but if he does kill the king then he will betray his leader’s trust in him. Betrayal would not be seen as an act of manliness. Jarold Ramsey explains the situation in the following sentence: “And, striking more ruthlessly at him, she scornfully implies that his very sexuality will be called into question in her eyes if he refuses the regicide” (288). This quote by Jarold Ramsey explains how Macbeth’s manliness will be determined in the eyes of Lady Macbeth when he makes his decision on whether or not he will kill the king. Lady Macbeth shows her desire of being queen in the following lines: “What beast was’t then / That made you break this enterprise to me? /When you durst do it, then you were a man” (I, vii, 47-49). This quote shows how she wants Macbeth to kill the king. In this situation Macbeth tells himself to be a man and kill the king to please Lady Macbeth. Maria Howell exp...

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...cduff when he tries to act like a man, but fails in the eyes of Malcolm when he cries over the death of his family. The last character is Young Siward; he tells himself to act like a man and tries to fight Macbeth so his father would be proud of him. Manhood in Macbeth is evident throughout the play and also plays a key role.

Works Cited

Coles, Blanche. Shakespeare Studies. Macbeth. New York: Richard R. Smith, 1938.
Howell, Maria. Manhood and Masculine Identity in William Shakespeare's the Tragedy
of Macbeth. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2008. Print.
Ramsey, Jarold. “The Perversion of Manliness in Macbeth.” Rice University, 12 Mar 2010. Web. 30 Mar 2014.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Literature: The British Tradition. Eds, Kate Kinsella, et
al. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

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