"Macbeth" - Aspects of femininity and Masculinity: the role reversals - Lady Macbeth and Macbeth

Essay by naloodHigh School, 12th gradeB, October 2006

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In Elizabethan times, there were distinct societal expectations about the roles of men and women. Although society expected women to be submissive to their husbands, Lady Macbeth not only subverts this idea of complete submission, but also decisively challenges her husband's masculinity. She seeks to subdue her femininity - her female characteristics - in order to become more masculine.

PARA 1: female characteristics

Lady Macbeth shared Macbeth's identity; his role; his fortunes and fate. Her domain revolved around the 'sphere of influence' that was her family and home. She combined traditional feminine characteristics with abilities which used to be considered stereotypically masculine traits. Her first thoughts were based on the reaction of the realism of Macbeth being Thane of Glamis, and possibly Cawdor as the witches predicted are the beginning of the play. This is expressed through the words "What thou art promised." (Act I, Scene V, line 15) Lady Macbeth's analyses her husband as someone ambitious but lacking the necessary character traits to achieve his ambitions.

He wants to attain his ambitions honourably. Lady Macbeth convinces him that he is too gentle and that he is not wicked enough. .

PARA 2 -3: role in Duncan's death

She instigates him to defend his manhood, asserts her "masculine" dominance and renounces her own femininity. She degrades him to the status of a beast when he fails to carry out the plan smoothly. Macbeth is challenged to prove her wrong and show his manliness by regicide. She firmly asseverates her dominance over him by conceiving the murderous plot. By showing that she has more manly instincts between the two. He followed Lady Macbeth's advice in being deceptive, "Look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under't." (Act I, Scene V, lines 63-64). Through scepticism of Macbeth's...