Lady Macbeth

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Lady Macbeth’s Masculinity
In the play, “Macbeth” by Shakespeare, the women are the darkest characters. Lady Macbeth plays the opposite gender role as a woman. Contrary to the popular western conception of women being kind, homely, and loving, Shakespeare represents Lady Macbeth in a masculine way. Her masculinity stands out, because in the play she wishes to be a man, she manipulates Macbeth to commit murder, and she believes Macbeth is womanly, unlike herself.
In the play Lady Macbeth wishes she to be a man so she could simply murder King Duncan herself. She is so frustrated with Macbeths doubtfulness because she knows she is powerful enough to commit the murder, and the only thing stopping her is being a woman. She states, “come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here” (1.5.45). Lady Macbeth commanding the spirits to unsex her shows she is not comfortable or happy being a woman. Her demanding word choice shows she is unappreciative being a woman. She also states, “come to my woman’s breasts and take milk for gall you murd’ing ministers” (1.5.58), which means she is comfortable for her breast milk to turn into poisonous acid. Having breast milk is a very important privilege for a woman, and for Lady Macbeth to not care goes against women’s nature.
It makes sense Lady Macbeth wishes to be a man because of her being unappreciative of the privileges a woman has. For example, when Macbeth is doubtful towards murdering King Duncan, Lady Macbeth becomes livid. She tells Macbeth before the murder, “I have given suck, and know how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.” (1.7.63). She compares the act of Duncan’s murder to the act of killing her own child after seeing it smile back at her. For Lady Macbeth to give imagery on her hurting her child is disturbing and the opposite of motherly.



Cited: Shakespeare, William, and A. R. Braunmuller. Macbeth. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print.

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