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Gender and Power in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”

The gender concept is clearly out of its traditional context in Macbeth’s storyline. For example, in Macbeth’s marriage, Lady Macbeth’s usurpation of the dominant role is often reflected in disruption because she controlled and dictated her husband’s actions on various occasions. Furthermore, through the couple of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, the character’s perception of gender roles is subverted by Shakespeare. The popular aspect that relates to the unconcealed reference to gender roles is found in the fact that Lady Macbeth requested the spirits to unsex her to be stoic and strong as a man to execute murderous deeds. The traditional concepts suggest that men are strong and rely on actions rather than words, contrary to women who are often inferior, emotional, and intuitive, as subverted in the concept of gender and power in Macbeth.

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Despite being ruled by the wife, Macbeth was a warrior who fought alongside his friend Banquo. Later, he became lustful for power after receiving a prophecy that he would be a king. Macduff, a faithful warrior of Duncan, is embodied with patriotism and loyalty. However, he became vengeful after his family’s assassination, resulting in the beheading of Macbeth to restore order in the country. Banquo was known for his bravery and skills in war, a man loyal to Macbeth even with suspicion of his involvement with the King’s murder. These examples illustrate that men are naturally strong and can fight for power either in revenge or merely to establish a kingdom.

Malcolm, the heir to the throne, escapes to exile after been pinned of his father’s murder. After being hesitant to become king, Macduff convinces him not to abandon the throne. When Malcolm ascends to the throne, he transforms his loyal thanes to earls as a sign of honor (Barton 72). The witches are essential in helping Macbeth by portraying the ability to prophesy. They are given masculine features, which they use to abuse the power they obtain.

In conclusion, women’s traditional characteristics are overly interchanged, where Lady Macbeth assumes a masculine personality. The narrative portrays different characters to challenge gender roles and power. However, it portrays feminism through fretfulness and helplessness and masculinity through dominance and control. Therefore, the play explains that both men and women are unequal in society, and there are inconsistent power distribution patterns.

Work Cited

Barton, Rodger. “Macbeth.” Shakespeare Out Loud. Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Gender and Power in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”." May 15, 2022.


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