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Are You A Man?

The traditional gender stereotype of masculine is


referred to as being strong and robust. Typically
males initiate power and demonstrate a strong
exterior, while females are typically associated
with internal emotions. The idea of manhood in
Macbeth is tied to strength, power, physical
courage, and force of will. Characters throughout
the play use the idea of manhood to goad one
another into action, manipulating the ideal of
masculinity, to serve their own benefits.
Macbeth initiates power and strength to prove his
manliness, Lady Macbeth induces manipulation
to commit acts, and Macduff believes that men
must not only react physically, but also
emotionally to given situations.
Macbeth begins with a firm grasp on his beliefs of
masculinity, but his actions and thoughts are
altered due to his wifes perception of
masculinity. Macbeth shows that he encompasses
morals and strength when he states, I dare do
all that may become a man;/ Who dares do more
is none. (1.7.46-7). Macbeth at this point is not
easily swayed, and believes that a real man
would not murder for power. Soon after, Lady
Macbeth imposes her superiority notions of
masculinity, when she accuses him of not

adhering to the typical male stereotype.


Macbeth echoes Lady Macbeths advice when he
questions the manhood of the murderers he has
hired to kill Banquo, Aye, in the catalogue ye go
for men (3.1.92). Macbeth commits many
heinous acts, but without his wife's powerful
presence behind him, it is unlikely that he would
have aspired to any of the murders. Macbeth is
manipulated by his wifes masculinity, and it is
almost as if he is trying to regain power, by
proving to her that he too can act upon immoral
thoughts. Macbeth began with a strong sense of
masculinity, and gradually fell under the
stereotype which his wife created.
Lady Macbeth emasculates her husband
repeatedly, knowing that in his desperation to
prove his manhood, he will do as she wishes.
Lady Macbeth wants to have all of the power and
will that a man possesses, and be rid of all her
feminine qualities to be able to act upon her
depraved thoughts, "Come, you spirits / That
tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, /
...Come to my woman's breasts, / And take my
milk for gall, you murdering ministers..." (1.5.3948). Lady Macbeths intention is to gain power
and do away with her conscience and emotions.
As a means to gain supremacy, Lady Macbeth
uses manipulation tactics to persuade Macbeth to
murder Duncan, When you durst do it, then

you were a man/ and, to be more than what


you were, you would/ be so much more the man.
(1.7.51-2). By goading Macbeth, Lady Macbeth
gains initial authority of the situation and abuses
her female privileges. Manipulation is the main
objective in Lady Macbeths rise to masculinity,
as she belittles Macbeth she increasingly gains
absolute power.
Macduff's character appears to be tough on the
exterior, but internally he feels the emotions
that any human would. When discovering the
murdered Duncan, Macduff masks his emotions
and allowed the masculinity to dominate the
situation, O gentle lady! / Tis not for you to her
what I can speak;/ The repetition in a womans
ear/ would murder as it fell. (2.3.84-7). Initially
Macduff is trying to protect a lady from the
heinous crime of Duncans murder, yet he is
subtly allowing the bias of gender roles control
his actions. Macduff is proving his superiority to
a helpless woman, therefore portraying to the
typical male role. Through viewing Macbeth's
behaviour, Macduff has formulated a new opinion
of what he thinks a man should be.
The
conclusion that Macduff has met is that a man
does
not only portray anger, power, and
strength., but feels it just as intensely. But I
must also feel it as a man; I cannot remember
such things were, that were most precious to

me.
(4.3.221-2) , and this is proving that
internal emotions must also be experienced.
Macduff's thoughts of masculinity developed
throughout the play, it is now not only how
characters present themselves on the exterior,
but also within.
In the play Macbeth, an untempered masculinity
seems to yield aggression, power and control.
Masculinity is rarely tied to ideals of intelligence
or moral fortitude; even characters that embody
these traits use the idea of manhood largely to
justify power. To each character masculinity has
a different meaning, to some it may only consist
of the literal meaning, and to others the
underlying theme. Masculinity is used as a subtheme to show how each character progressed
by the end of the play. To Macbeth, masculinity
became a need rather than a gift, while Lady
Macbeth gained masculinity in order to
manipulate others, and Macduff matured by
realizing masculinity comes within, not without.