The Elizabethan ideology of the traditional gender roles is constantly challenged and manipulated throughout the play, Macbeth. William Shakespeare explores the relationship between gender and power within the play, challenging the male dominant society of the 16th century. The play is set in the 11th century, Scotland where a patriarchal society is portrayed through the characters within the Shakespearean production. Qualities such as courage, honour, braveness and control were reflected at that time as masculinity. Macbeth is portrayed through these characteristics in the beginning of the play, whereas the feminine character, Lady Macbeth, was portrayed as ruthless and ‘power-hungry’. These qualities are usually associated with masculinity, therefore defying the traditional gender roles. In this essay we analyse the different characters and how they are portrayed though the masculine and feminine representations in relation to power. We examine how Lady Macbeth has dominance over Macbeth, the Weird sister’s persuasion though blurred gender, the changes within Macbeth concerning power and we also view Macduff’s interpretation of gender.
Lady Macbeth crosses the gender line in search of power. As a feminine character in that time, this is considered unacceptable. She has dominance over Macbeth and dictates his actions; Lady Macbeth propels her husband towards killing king Duncan and portrays power in this disruption of gender, through Lady Macbeth’s apprehension of the dominant role in their marriage. “Pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise with the valour of my tongue” (Act 1. Scene 5. 40 – 42). Lady Macbeth uses the word valour (courage) which implies the power of her Language, as well as her masculinity. She shows strong masculine characteristics and specifies her desire to lose her feminine qualities in order to gain masculine ones. “Come, you spirits that tend one mortal thought! Unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top full of direst...
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