Androgyny in the Characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth Essay

Androgyny in the Characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth Essay

Length: 2287 words (6.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Androgyny in the Characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth   


    In her book, Woman and Gender in Renaissance Tragedy, Dympna Callaghan addresses the presentation of women in Elizabethan England, stating that "women were clearly socially subordinate, and the preponderance of discourse on the gender hierarchy was misogynistic" (Callaghan 12). According to Marianne L. Novy in Love's Argument: Gender Relations in Shakespeare: "'Woman' seems to be associated with qualities - emotions, fears, - one has against one's will, and 'man' with a preferable mode of existence. Men are exhorted to be men, and women, playfully or seriously, often attempt to imitate men" (Novy 198). While men and women were born different, it was society's treatment of their distinguishing sexual traits that defined them either as masculine, and thus in a position of power, or as feminine and unable to challenge male authority.

Much of the literature composed in Elizabethan England reflects, whether deliberately or inadvertently, the gender inequities cited by Callaghan, Novy, and others. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the dynamics of the marriage between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth involve a mutual striving towards manhood as a result of misplaced gender traits in each. Shakespeare develops the androgyny of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and this becomes the basis for the offenses they commit in the play. Both characters achieve a position of power and authority through the use of their masculine characteristics, but their feminine characteristics make their gains tenuous and ultimataly cause their downfall.

Throughout the play Shakespeare presents the feminine traits within Macbeth as the characteristics that mark him as a flawed man. When Macbeth says...


... middle of paper ...


...speare. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1984

5. Ussher, Jane. Women's Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness?. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1991

6. Williams, Juanita. Psychology of Women. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1987

 

WORKS REFERENCED



1. Belsey, Catherine. The Subject of Tragedy. London: Methuen, 1985

2. Biggins, Dennis. "Sexuality, Witchcraft, and Violence in Macbeth." Shakespeare Studies VII (1975)

3. Gilligan, Carol. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982

4. Hogrefe, Pearl. Tudor Women: Commoners and Queens. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1975

5. Howells, John, ed. World History of Psychiatry. New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1975

6. Millett, Kate. Sexual Politics. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Madness Of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth And The Three Witches Essay examples

- Madness is an intensely compelling component of many dramatic texts and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is certainly no exception. However, the portrayal of madness in Macbeth, specifically the madness of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and the three Witches, is uniquely compelling when examined in regard to the play’s implications as a moralistic text. Through the use of repetition, syntax, and imagery, Shakespeare creates and juxtaposes two abstract worlds in the play in which his characters must function: the world of the sane and the world of the mad....   [tags: Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Three Witches, Moral]

Powerful Essays
1038 words (3 pages)

Essay on Maternity and Masculinity in Macbeth and Coriolanus

- Maternity and Masculinity in Macbeth and Coriolanus The power of womanhood is linked with both maternity and masculinity in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Coriolanus; one might say that they are interchangeable. Lady Macbeth becomes the psychologically masculine force over her husband, essentially assuming a maternal role, in order to inspire the aggression needed to fulfill their ambitions. Similarly, in Coriolanus, Volumnia maintains a clear, overtly maternal position over Coriolanus, molding him to be the ideal of heroic masculinity that both separates him from the rest of the characters and inescapably binds him to his mother....   [tags: Macbeth Coriolanus Essays]

Powerful Essays
2838 words (8.1 pages)

Role Reversal of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth Essay

- As Shakespeare’s tragic tale of ambition unfolds, the two central characters, Lady Macbeth and the title character Macbeth, undergo a dramatic shift of dominance in their relationship. In the beginning of the play the couple act as a team, plotting the death of Duncan to further their mutual bloodthirsty ambition. Lady Macbeth soon shows her power over Macbeth when she questions her husband’s manhood and devotion to her when he gets cold feet. As Macbeth’s confidence slowly grows and the witches proclaim positive futures for him he begins to separate himself from his wife, planning Banquo’s assassination without telling her, and no longer being susceptible to her insults....   [tags: Lady Macbeth Character Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1578 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on The Role of Lady Macbeth

- In this essay I am going to discuss the role of Lady Macbeth. First I will be giving a quick summary of Macbeth, discuss the main themes and issues, analyse the text, analyse the character of Lady Macbeth, discuss the relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, write about the strengths and weaknesses of Lady Macbeth, I am going to debate if Lady Macbeth is evil or good, talk about the reason why Shakespeare created the character Lady Macbeth, discuss the misogynistic views in the play, discuss demonology written by king James and finally talk about the adoptions of the directors....   [tags: Lady Macbeth Character Analysis]

Powerful Essays
3187 words (9.1 pages)

The Role of Lady Macbeth Essay

- Throughout William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is presented as an evil, cold-hearted person, but, when it comes to the actual act of committing the murder, Lady Macbeth does not commit murder. In the end, it is Macbeth who plunges the knife into Duncan’s heart. Lady Macbeth had planned the whole murder, brought the daggers, and even intoxicated the guards, but it is Macbeth who ultimately killed Duncan. After the crime is committed, it is Macbeth who collapses and Lady Macbeth who smears blood on the guards to complete their plan....   [tags: Lady Macbeth Character Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1523 words (4.4 pages)

The Downfall of Lady Macbeth Essay examples

- In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s desire and ambition leads to her eventual downfall. When Lady Macbeth hears of Macbeth’s prophecy she dreams of the glory and high-standing that awaits being queen. She cannot withhold her ambitions and she is willing to manipulate fate to bring about Macbeth’s prophecy. She invokes evil spirits to be filled from head to toe with cruelty to do the evil actions necessary to make Macbeth king and to remove all remorse and pity for her action from her heart....   [tags: Lady Macbeth Character Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1360 words (3.9 pages)

The Role Reversal Between Macbeth & Lady Macbeth Essay

- In the play Macbeth by Shakespeare, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s way of thinking get switched. The main reasons for this are the three witches. They told Macbeth and his trustworthy friend, Banquo, that he would be Thane of Glamis, which he already is, Thane of Cawdor, and the king of Scotland. Banquo was told he would father kings. They were both sceptic of these prophecies, but once Macbeth soon became Thane of Cawdor he started believing in what the witches told him. Once he sees Lady Macbeth, after she has been informed of this news, they immediately conclude they must kill the king of Scotland, Duncan, even though the prophecy mentioned no such thing....   [tags: Lady Macbeth Character Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1473 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about Macbeth And Lady Macbeth By William Shakespeare

- Macbeth, a renowned written play by the prominent William Shakespeare, features the protagonists Macbeth and Lady Macbeth with characters such as the witches whose words and prophecies influence them in many aspects of their decision-making. Although Macbeth is initially a loyal Thane and soldier to his King, his ambition for power overruns his loyalty. This ambition is stimulated when the witches tell him that he shall be king after the current King of Scotland, Duncan. While the witches are clever, sinister beings, their horrifying appearances are confused to be more masculine than ladylike....   [tags: Macbeth, Three Witches, Poetry, Lady Macbeth]

Powerful Essays
977 words (2.8 pages)

Lady Macbeth By William Shakespeare Essay

- Macbeth had shown the audience that it was impossible to make a decision on his own throughout the play. His treacherous actions were often fueled by his female counterpart and the three weird sisters. William Shakespeare’s Macbeth attempts to assert the position of the female in such a manner that it causes the destruction and confusion as to where the male stands in relation to his power. As a primary dosage, Shakespeare introduces the supernatural capabilities of the weird sisters while giving the impression that they are females....   [tags: Macbeth, Gender, Three Witches, Lady Macbeth]

Powerful Essays
1467 words (4.2 pages)

Portraying the Character of Lady Macbeth Essays

- Portraying the Character of Lady Macbeth Congratulations on getting the part of Lady Macbeth in the recent Old Vic’s production of the Scottish Play I am writing this letter to give you some interpretation and tips on how you can portray you character best on stage. After watching numerous versions of the play, I have not once seen this character being conveyed as well as the Globe’s recent production. Hence in this letter I want to clarify and explain how this scene can be staged best, since it is one of the most important in the play; your role will need to be played out exceptionally well....   [tags: Lady Macbeth Scottish Plays Essays]

Free Essays
2006 words (5.7 pages)