Throughout history women have encountered many stigmas and societal restraints on their roles in society. They are forced to bow down to male dominance without a question in mind. This male superiority is a discretion that still lives on in some cultures of the modern world.
However, in the play, Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, this type of prominence is not easily found. Set in medieval Scotland, the main character Macbeth is a Scottish general who thrives to overtake the throne of Scotland after his meeting with the Three Witches. Upon meeting the witches, Macbeth is easily swayed as the first of the witches’ many prophecies come true. As Macbeth is keen on unraveling his future, the driving force behind his actions resides within his wife, Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is an unconventional character as she defies all stigmas of the medieval society, she is ruthless and ambitious, pushing her husband to commit an act of crime that soon spirals into a whirlpool of atrocious events. Lady Macbeth’s initial influence upon her husband to kill King Duncan is soon seen to lead a death order to Macbeth’s best friend, Banquo, and Banquo’s son Fleece. After his name to King seemed final, new prophecies arise of an upcoming war that ultimately leads to Macbeth’s downfall.
This disruption of gender roles presented through Lady Macbeth’s seizure of the dominant role is seen on many occasions throughout the play as she rules over her husband and dictates his actions. Although a deeper understanding of gender concepts of manhood and womanhood are established in medieval Scotland, Lady Macbeth’s defies these principles in a polarized rejection of womanhood and humanity in order to attain power that only men would have in this medieval society. A pivotal role introduced in Macbeth is the feminine dominant role acquired by Lady Macbeth. She is a woman who disowns her feminine side, ashamed and hostile, she only wills for the power of a man. As an active character throughout the play, Lady Macbeth is the initial force behind all of Macbeth’s wrongdoings.
As she dictates Macbeth to kill King Duncan, she inherits the role of a man during medieval times. When Macbeth starts to question his decision to go through with the murder of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth steps in and convinces him otherwise saying “Art thou afeard / To be the same in thine own act and valor / As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that / Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, / And live a coward in thine own esteem, / Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would, ” / Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage?” (1.7.39-44). Lady Macbeth is using her context to humiliate Macbeth and belittle him to feel ashamed for even hesitating.
Lady Macbeth’s type of behavior is seen to resemble the classic stereotypical male, all mighty and unwavered by the evil deeds she forces Macbeth to commit. These characteristics are well supported by Lady Macbeth’s initial drive for the throne. Lady Macbeth’s “Addresses her absent husband on priorities, she invites him to come to her quickly so that she can prepare him adequately by pouring her cruelty on him, and by chastising him with the valor of her tongue” (Rahman and Tajuddin, 129). .Her attempt to humiliate Macbeth is successful because she is able to bend Macbeth to her will very easily. This is possible because Macbeth is in a weak position, not only is he disturbed by the potential killing of King Duncan, but he is afraid of disappointing his wife. Lady Macbeth uses humiliation tactics because she knows well that Macbeth’s ambition of becoming the king is not strong enough; he does not have the evil in his character which is required to make him king.
Her lash of words not only push Macbeth to the edge of This argument provokes that to locate and examine the origin of evil, Lady Macbeth an analysis of her behavior has to determine whether this evil is in her nature or not. The evil found in her behavior and her drive for Macbeth’s throne concludes that is Lady Macbeth is the evil element present to push Macbeth over the edge.In grand scheme of Macbeth’s instability to make a decision, he is filled with the voice of Lady Macbeth who is constantly ready to give a tongue lashing. The lash of words that Lady Macbeth continues to diminish now include qualities Macbeth possesses in order to uphold the stature of men. With only one goal in mind, Lady Macbeth continues Macbeth’s emotional trauma as she calls upon the spirits to, “Come, you spirits / And that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty” (1.5.38–41). Her dramatic call on the spirits to fulfill her wish is a way to eliminate her nature to all womanly attributes, provoke Macbeth to do the same.
She means to diminish his sense of compassion and pity which is a flaw to women, a quality she as a woman does not possess. Her speech is successful as she not only critiques Macbeth’s decisions indirectly, but his sexuality and character. She speaks to Macbeth strategically as she deliberately questions his manhood, hoping to invoke a reaction from him that will finalize his decision to go through with the murder.
Her constant disapproval disgraces Macbeth’s masculinity as men in this society are supposed to resemble fierce warriors and men of great might, but instead he is described to be the very opposite. In this speech, there is no such confusion as Lady Macbeth is willing to do whatever is takes to seize the throne, including throwing her husband under the bus. Her continuous harassment is strategic because as she exposes Macbeth’s dying masculinity as she unveils her tactics to force Macbeth into making a decision using her femininity and sexuality. Lady Macbeth craves to attain the power of Macbeth since he is too hesitant and in the events that follow after her call on the spirits, she shows that she is the real steel behind Macbeth and that her will is what forces him forward with his decisions. Lady Macbeth’s strategic behavior invokes certain reactions of “femininity sexuality, and evil, which exposes our persistent anxieties surrounding the alleged dangerous sexual power of Lady Macbeth” (Rooks, 151). After Lady Macbeth claims to be unsexed, she puts Macbeth in between a rock and a hard place, trapping him to fulfill her wishes using a ploy through her sexuality and femininity.
This claim bases upon on the depiction of Lady Macbeth, showing an implication that female sexuality can present as a dangerous quality in Macbeth. This analysis confirms Lady Macbeth use of sexuality to manipulate Macbeth throughout the play which supports Lady Macbeth’s goal to attain total power in Macbeth is valid. Lady Macbeth’s thirst for Macbeth’s throne reflects upon on her own hunger for power that she not only craves as a man, but also a king. She carries the element of jealousy since she is not able to fulfill the duties of a man during her time.
Lady Macbeth’s character reveals characteristics of sexualized evil, and manipulation in order to reach her goal. As Macbeth’s character changes from a respected Thane who has shown great loyalty to King Duncan to an evil tyrant, there is only one person who can take credit: Lady Macbeth. This is Lady Macbeth’s greatest accomplishment, for Macbeth to lose himself to her reign. Although her accomplishment is close to fulfillment, Macbeth still has recurring qualms about his wrong doings. Before Duncan’s death he knows that Lady Macbeth forceful tactics are not his conscience speaks “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, / Shakes so my single state of man / That function is smothered in surmise, / And nothing is but what is not” (1.3.
52-55). Macbeth is flooded with a sense of not knowing who he is anymore. He thought that Lady Macbeth being a good wife is only to be discerned with her husband’s well-being and helping him continue his success. In this moment Macbeth realizes that his definition of success is different from his wife, but because of the loyalty he has for Lady Macbeth, he goes through with the murder of King Duncan.
But his guilty conscience “gives conception of murder that is initially Lady Macbeth’s and her role, as she perceives it, is to gestate his “courage” to obtain what he deserves and desires” (Abdalla 9). Lady Macbeth becomes even more powerful as she realizes that Macbeth’s compliance to her shows true loyalty and submission to her will. In this moment, Lady Macbeth breaks from her prison of gender as she truly displays the masculinity that a man or husband would have over a woman or his wife. Lady Macbeth finally held this power to control Macbeth after all of the manipulation and humiliation she causes him to endure. As the act later plays out, Lady Macbeth successfully convinces Macbeth to kill King Duncan and concludes that she is the sole source behind most of her husband’s actions leading up to Macbeth becoming king. Without her forcefulness and manipulations, he probably would not have had the courage to commit the murders that were necessary for his climb to power in the first place. In the pursuit to fulfill her ambition through Macbeth, she only succeeds in monstering not only herself, but Macbeth as well.
Her manipulation of words force Macbeth to change his entire character throughout the play.Taking a closer look at William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, it is easy to conclude that gender is out of its traditional order. This disruption of gender roles is shown by Lady Macbeth’s internal male characteristics, but external female figure. Lady Macbeth is not aligned with the stereotypes in medieval society, but nonetheless she tends to them from both inside and out. MacBeth contains a “fierce war between gender concepts of manhood and womanhood played out upon the plane of humanity” (Kimbrough, 181). Due to societal restraints, Lady Macbeth is unable to take formal authority in order to gain status and a kingdom of power, so she uses her husband as a vehicle to fulfil her ambitions. But her role as a feminine figure in Macbeth completely eliminates these parameters of a woman in medieval Scotland as Lady Macbeth interchanges her femininity for masculinity in order to get what she wants.
While she is not the only contributing factor, Lady Macbeth does play a substantial role in the downfall of her husband. She is a catalyst for Macbeth and essentially pushes him over the edge to comply to her wishes. Lady Macbeth ensures that Macbeth’s own insecurities are fully exposed while misguiding his future to her own liking. As the plot continues, a realization of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s relationship is analyzed to undergo a dramatic shift of dominance in their relationship. Although, her capabilities only extend so far, as she suffers the consequences of a guilty conscience, while Macbeth’s confidence only grows. Soon, he is no longer susceptible to her insults and by the end of the play the roles have completely switched and Lady Macbeth spirals into a guilt fueled insanity.
Despite the repercussions, Lady Macbeth is still able to complete her role in Macbeth’s life, to be the dominant spouse. She established this principle early on that she wears the pants in the relationship which contrasts the status quo of medieval Scotland. She defined the capabilities of women which are usually underestimated, but Lady Macbeth’s role played in Macbeth not only gave contextual evidence to her success in the play, but established an identity that is evade by society.