Leadership, Power, And Masculinity In Relation To Gender Roles In Macbeth

The tragic story of Macbeth is taken place a long time ago where gender stereotypes were normal and forced on by society. But throughout the story we can see these gender roles flip flop from one another in different characteristics of characters. The three main ones that are most evident are the changes in leadership, power, and even masculinity. We can see that most of these changes happen in the beginning of the book then changing over in the middle. With leadership, Lady Macbeth takes change in the plot to kill Duncan, but later on, Macbeth takes the leadership back when he tells Lady Macbeth not to worry herself with who he is killing/plotting on killing next. With power, roles don’t really change, but Lady Macbeth uses Macbeth like a puppet, where she basically controls him. And finally, with masculinity, we can see in the beginning of the book Macbeth is too shook after murdering Duncan that he can’t even go back to the scene to put the knives away so Lady Macbeth has to for him. These are just some of the examples throughout the story that show how gender roles switch back and forth.

Leadership is a huge characteristic that is shown in both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, but Lady Macbeth really shows her traits of leadership big time in the beginning of the book. For example she lays out the daggers for Macbeth to use for the murder of Duncan. We know this when she blatantly says “I laid their daggers ready; He could not have miss’em.” in act 2 scene 2. Another time that Lady Macbeth showed that she had leadership was when Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are having a conversation after Macbeth murdered the king and two grooms Lines 26-49 Macbeth says “Still it cried “Sleep no more?” to all the house: “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more.”” When Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to snap out of this by saying “Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy Thane, You do unbend your noble strength , to think So brainsickly of things. Go get some water, And wash this filthy witness from your hand.” “Why did you bring these daggers from the place? They must lie there: go carry them, and smear The sleepy grooms with blood.”. Here she is telling Macbeth to calm down, wash his hands, and to return the daggers to the murder scene. She is trying to build him back up and to straighten him out since he is out of whack from just killing three people. Lady Macbeth is taking charge in a very serious situation that needs to be handled carefully.

When regarding power in the book, it doesn’t switch as much as the leadership does. But it is definitely used in the book. Lady Macbeth basically uses this power, but masking it with Macbeth, so she is basically using him as a puppet. We see this when Macbeth becomes king but needs to continue to hold onto the throne. She makes sure that he kills whoever comes in his way or whoever threatens the throne. This doesn’t last too long because she only controls him until he starts going off on Macduff's family. But this trait is definitely used by someone who stereotypically would never be able to use that.

Finally, masculinity is played by both roles throughout the book. We first see this in Lady Macbeth in the second act when she says “Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t” referring to murdering Duncan. The quote straight up means that if she were masculine enough she would have killed Duncan herself. She is basically saying that she isn’t that masculine even though later lines contradict this statement. For example in the same act, she says “Why did you bring these daggers from the place? They must lie there: go carry them, and smear The sleepy grooms with blood.” Macbeth is too scared to return to the murder scene so she says “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures. ‘Tis the eye of childhood That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, For it must seem their guilt.”. Lady Macbeth is calling Macbeth a wuss because she has to go clean up for the murder he committed. Lady Macbeth doesn’t understand how you could be so scared to go back into a room of people you just murdered to make it all look like their fault. Going later into the book we can see masculinity being challenged when Macbeth is talking to the murderers who are planning on killing Banquo. Macbeth quotes “Now if you have a station in the file, Not i’ th’ worst rank of manhood…” in act 3 scene . Macbeth is questioning if the killers are man enough to go kill Banquo. As we can see this trait had taken place in both male and female characters.

Throughout the book we can see certain traits that would normally be in males, be in both male and female characters. These traits consist of leadership, power, and masculinity. The leadership shows early in the book with Lady Macbeth before and after the murder of Duncan. The power shows when Lady Macbeth uses Macbeth as a puppet up to a certain extent. The masculinity shows early in the book too much like the leadership, right after the murder of Duncan, and also shows before the murder of Banquo. In conclusion, not only to the gender roles flip back and forth, but characters who stereotypically should never be using these traits, use them a lot. 

16 December 2021
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