To be a Man in Shakespeare’s Macbeth
In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth the definition of what it is to be a man is seen differently by several characters. One of the views expressed in the play is that a man is a man when he is willing to do everything he can to get what he wants out of life and never feel any remorse about the actions he has taken. The view of what it means to be a man, that contradicts this view, is that a man must only go so far in trying to get what he wants, otherwise he is just a monster. In this view a man is allowed to be able to feel grief and empathy. The way in which the characters in Macbeth view what it means to be a man affects the way in which they live their lives and, in turn, governs their actions. Lady Macbeth and Malcolm are two of the characters in Macbeth that believe that a man must be able to do whatever it takes to get what they want and not feel remorse or grief for other people. When Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he no longer wants to murder Duncan she says, “When you durst do it, then you were a man;/ And to be more than what you were, you would/ Be so much more a man” (1.7.50-52). What she is saying is that he was a man only when he was telling her than he wanted to kill Duncan and the more that he acts likes he is going to go through with killing him the more it will make him a man. She thinks that Macbeth’s hesitation to kill Duncan is a weakness and is unmanly. This passage shows that Lady Macbeth believes that a man is a man when he is willing to do what ever it takes to get what he wants. In this case, Lady Macbeth thinks that Macbeth should kill Duncan in order to be king and not doing so would be unmanly. After Macbeth kills Duncan he feels remorse. Lady Macbeth says, “A foolish thought, to say sorry sight” (2.2.25). Lady Macbeth thinks that it is foolish of Macbeth to be remorseful at the sight of Duncan’s blood on his hands. Lady Macbeth thinks that a man should not feel remorse or guilt for doing what he...
Cited: Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Bantam, 1988.
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