Exmine the Masculine and Feminine Representations in Relation to Power in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

1010 words 5 pages
The Elizabethan ideology of the traditional gender roles is constantly challenged and manipulated throughout the play, Macbeth. William Shakespeare explores the relationship between gender and power within the play, challenging the male dominant society of the 16th century. The play is set in the 11th century, Scotland where a patriarchal society is portrayed through the characters within the Shakespearean production. Qualities such as courage, honour, braveness and control were reflected at that time as masculinity. Macbeth is portrayed through these characteristics in the beginning of the play, whereas the feminine character, Lady Macbeth, was portrayed as ruthless and ‘power-hungry’. These qualities are usually associated with …show more content…
Macbeth no longer felt strong emotional feelings.

This is controversial as the protagonist is incapable of any emotions, yet emotions are what Macduff believes make a man, not brutal apathy. This Character soon learns that his family was viciously murder under the command of Macbeth, he is overwhelmed with emotion and Malcolm encourages him to express his emotions and let them out by saying “Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak Whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break” (Act 4. Scene 3. 209 – 210). In doing this Macduff will defy the role of a traditional Elizabethan man, as these words suggest that it is acceptable for a man to cry. Men were supposed to be brave and fearless; Macduff encourages the opposite. Malcolm then encourages him to take revenge, turning his grief into vengeful anger, fighting or disputing the murder like a man, this is synonymous with masculinity. Yet once again Macduff challenges the traditional Elizabethan man when he decides he is going to “feel” (grief, love and regret) the loss of his family as a man.

Disruption of the gender roles is also represented in the three weird sisters. Their facial hair symbolizes their influence as a male dominant society. The gender of these characters is also ambiguous as Banquo says “You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so” (Act 1. Scene 2. 45 – 47). This is perceived as violating


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