Be a Man

I have read Macbeth a few times already and I can’t help but be drawn to the initial role reversal we see in the first act. Lady Macbeth is not the quiet well-mannered house wife. Her evil plot to kill Duncan down to the last detail is frightening and then realizing it is coming from a female character adds to the shock of the entire scene. Macbeth’s manhood is put on the table here and although he falters and wants to not go through with it, he ultimately goes through with the deed to stop his wife from basically calling him a scared little girl. What else was Macbeth supposed to do with his wife humiliating him like that? Honor is all someone has and I think Macbeth was at a position where he could not back down.
After Macbeth has gotten his taste for blood, in Act three we see a new man appear. This is where Macbeth returns to acting like a man and Lady Macbeth goes to the unsure scared housewife of that time. Macbeth wants to make sure he remains king so he decides to get the murderers angry enough to want to kill Banquo and Fleance. To do so, Macbeth questions their manhood’s. Just as it worked when Lady Macbeth did that to Macbeth, this too works with the Murders. Their desire grows to kill Banquo and Fleance in order to prove to the king that they are men.

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4 thoughts on “Be a Man

  1. ShaynaGreenspan

    Amanda, I definitely agree with you on this one, Lady Macbeth really takes on the role of a typical male of this time. Lady Macbeth seems just as power-hungry as the men in William Shakespeare’s works. I agree, that it is more shocking that she is plotting something such as violent as Duncan’s murder. Lady Macbeth does poke fun at Macbeth a lot as you say referring to him as basically a scared girl. I am also not sure with what this is supposed to be showing us, or what other options he had in ways of reacting to her. I do find it interesting that the roles switch back as you pointed out. I think at this point Macbeth is so power-hungry and really wants to just be king that every ounce of adrenalin and “manliness” he has kicks in. I also do think that Macbeth really thought he had to prove himself to everyone as a “man” and that the only way he thought was fit was to throw around his power and be destructive. It is odd, yet so predictable that the only way that Macbeth thinks he can show power is through destruction. I suppose this point relies heavily on the fact of the time period and the barbaric actions that took place. It seems all too predictable though..would have been interesting to see Macbeth gain power in different ways!

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  2. burnettd1

    I agree with you that Lady Macbeth behaves like a man during Shakespearian times throughout the majority of this play. Lady Macbeth did not care what she needed to do in order to become the queen. Therefore, she persuaded her husband, Macbeth, to kill Duncan in order to receive the crown. Lady Macbeth often diminished her husband’s manhood in order to get him to do the things that she wanted him to do. It seems ironic that she took away his manhood; however, Lady Macbeth did not act womanly and Macbeth never pointed that out to his wife. The only time Lady Macbeth seemed to appear like a woman is when she showed her guilt about what she and her husband has done. Lady Macbeth was a strong female character who had characteristics that were similar to the men during this time period.

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  3. lauriegrl14

    Lady M sure did know how to sucker punch her husband but I am not completely convinced that she was this masculine figure. I think she was a very persuasive and manipulating woman who was just as power hungry as her husband. She wants what she wants and will do anything to get it, even if that means she has to hit Macbeth below the belt.
    The poor guy just proved himself to be a loyal war hero in Act 1 and is given the title of thane of Cawdor for his bravery and victorious win over Macdonwald. He just comes from a killing spree (war) and Lady M wastes no time in questioning his manhood . She knows she has to keep the blood – thirst and power – hungry Macbeth’s internal fire burning before he changes his mind completely about killing the King.

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  4. wompdestroyed

    Reblogged this on Shakespeare Unlimited and commented:
    A sissy or a King. The latter sounds better; if he had only known that his Conscience would CRUMBLE: he would have been happy getting his surreptitious masculine consortments satiated by perhaps a well-becoming cadet he met in war. The fact that he is persuaded to such a heinous act makes me feel he is insecure about his own sexuality. Belike Lady Macbeth had suspicions of this and was threatening to expose him. Scholars have argued for years that the modern version of Macbeth is likely an abridged rendition. Perhaps Lady Macbeth says, “Kill the King or I will expose your abominations.” Just throwin’ it out there. Great job “Shakespeare II” on this post and the image included with it. I look forward to reading more of your writing. All smiles 🙂

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