Breaking Gender Boundaries in Macbeth
In medieval England, boundaries of stereotypes were present to separate the men from the women. Expectations for men were high and ambitious, while the expectations for women were unaspiring and low. Men were expected to be the leader, authoritative and ambitious. Women were expected to be submissive, generous and weak. However through Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s criticism, monologues and soliloquies, Shakespeare breaks these traditional gender stereotypes of men and women. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, masculinity is shown by the use of physical force.
In act one, Macbeth’s manliness is shown through fighting the invading Irish armies with valor and brutality, but his soliloquies and monologues reveal his true character. He is actually submissive and easily influenced by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth on the other hand is cruel, aggressive, ambitious and persistent. Her “manly” traits are shown through her soliloquies, monologues and criticism towards Macbeth. In Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s marriage, Lady Macbeth acts more like the husband and Macbeth acts more like the wife in their relationship.
In act one scene four, Lady Macbeth criticizes Macbeth in her monologue. She says that Macbeth is “too full o’ the milk of human kindness” (1.5.15) and does not have “the illness to attend” (1.5.18) his ambition of overthrowing King Duncan to become king himself. Lady Macbeth is the one with the “illness” since Macbeth does not mention anything about stealing the crown from Duncan in his letter. Her cruel thoughts make her unlike any other woman. She is terrifying in a sense that she already thinks of a way to talk Macbeth into doing whatever it takes to steal the crown. Also, she seems to want the crown more than Macbeth. “Lady Macbeth seeks an unattainable masculine authority” since she is limited to little power in the position she is in. Her ambitious characteristic also makes her crave for power because has goals she...