Life is a power struggle. Throughout life, we continuously attempt to gain power over our peers. Marriage is no exception, and in Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, the pursuit of power between Macbeth and his wife is the impetus for a slew of horrific acts. Shakespeare initially characterizes the couple by their swapped gender roles. Where Macbeth appears spineless and impotent, his wife appears masculine. Macbeth attempts to gain power by assimilating himself to a life of sordid schemes. Lady Macbeth tries to maintain her leverage over Macbeth emasculating him and seducing him into becoming her ticket to the throne. Shakespeare constantly gauges Macbeth and his wife’s power by their guilt and their cruelty. Macbeth, following his first act of cruelty is rattled with guilt, but progresses to the Macbeth that capriciously orders the murders of his close friends. Lady Macbeth, who at first appears eager to slaughter King Duncan, eventually slays herself because of the unbearable guilt that encumbers her. Furthermore, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth use their power in curious ways. Lady Macbeth uses it to subjugate Macbeth into increasing her wealth and societal status, but Macbeth uses his power to substantiate himself as a man and to please his wife. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have significant power in Scotland, but it is their domestic power struggle that exemplifies the theme of masculinity.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth develop to their own polar opposites by the end of the play. From masculinity to femininity and vice versa, and from powerful to impotent and vice versa. Macbeth’s tone becomes more masculine as he becomes more bloodthirsty. Similarly, Lady Macbeth’s cruelty is what characterizes her as cruel at the start of the play. As Lady Macbeth finishes her husband’s letter regarding his super natural interaction, instead of weighing the implications of the letter, her mind immediately turns to the thought of the potential power. The power balance is immediately...
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