Summary notes on Masculine Values in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'

Essay by StephiHigh School, 11th gradeA+, June 2004

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-Ambiguity between gender roles eg. witches in opening scene (act aggressively and authoritatively yet have minimal powers; are female yet have beards)

-Reason for gender ambiguity: Certain qualities associated with both genders

-Macbeth's Scotland = world of constant war with 'heroic' culture

-In 'heroic' worlds, women must become men & fight = loss of women to culture = subject of tragedy

-Macbeth = butcher & hero (lives in culture that values butchery)

-Reference of manhood to ability to kill

-Power = highest value in Scotland

-Civilised world is bound in accordance with a principle of nature (equivalent to the divine law) Ã law, custom, hierarchy, tradition

-Civilised world harmonises the 2 gender principles

-Civilised world still demands a degree of subordination - everyone must relinquish worldly power

-Ones with power must restrain it, ones without must accept it otherwise life = hell

-Law bind themselves; not enforced -> Macbeth chooses to break these rules

-Lady Macbeth = powerful -> drawn to idea of worldly power

-Lady Macbeth seen as exemplary wife

-Lady macbeth see's and understands the terms of the world she lives in and accepts them

-Macbeth violates moral law, Lady Macbeth violates natural law

-Lady Macbeth fails to uphold feminine principle

-Imagery is divided into masculine & feminine

-Blood & Royal Robes (M)

-Male prowess, authority & legitimacy (M)

-Babies, children, female breasts & milk (F)

-Lady Macbeth thinks Macbeth is too kind (contrast to idea of Macbeth being a 'bloody hero')

-Lady Macbeth aligns herself with male principle, wanting Macbeth to be more of a man

-Both agree manliness is the highest standard of behaviour, but they argue about what term comprehends -> Macbeth accepts Lady Macbeth's definition

-Both feel uneasy about murder yet the deed is still done

-Shakespeare suggests world has changes due to...