Macbeth is one of the famous play that was written by William Shakespeare in 1606. Even today, students and others still read and watch this play due to its powerful theme it portrays. Shakespeare explores and challenges the concept of a typical gender role. In Macbeth, the gender roles were quite strange and ironic. The male characters in this play, are shown with feminine traits while the female characters are shown with masculine traits. Traditionally, the men are the providers, workers, and essentially becomes the strength of the family while the women are the ones who stay in the house and take care of the children. A man’s physical strength is depicted as strong and brave at dreadful times, but in Macbeth, the men can wind up weak while the women remain strong as proven many times between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. The gender roles between the Macbeths’ gradually transition throughout the play presenting the stereotypical gender are explored and challenged.
The married couple obviously do not represent the typical traits of a husband and wife. As Lady Macbeth is being introduced, we can already sense her dominance and power over her husband, Macbeth. For instance, when she immediately takes of control of the situation of when Macbeth is hesitant of how to administer King Duncan’s visit to their home as shown in the play it says, ” But be the serpent under’t. He that’s coming Must be provided for; and you shall put this night’s great business into my dispatch,” (Macbeth 1.5. 58-60). This proves how the gender roles are reversed as the wives are usually portrayed as caring and timid when it comes to making difficult decisions especially in cases like those.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth evidently desire to have power and we know that it is Lady Macbeth who is originally presented as the prompting force in the marriage. Clearly, her intentions are managed toward acquiring power. For instance, when she learns about the witches’ predictions, she quickly plans about the murder and takes charge of the situation. This is proven as she explains to her husband, “Only look up clear. To alter favor ever is to fear. Leave all the rest to me.”(Mac.1.5. 63-65). Lady Macbeth told her husband that he should not act dubious as it may create suspicion so he should just let her handle it.
They both also exchange roles concerning their expression of guilt. Lady Macbeth is originally unaffected by the thought of murder, even after the murder of the king. We can verify that because in the play she states, “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.” (Mac. 2.2.52-54). This part shows how she handled the situation like it was ordinary when Macbeth forgot to put the daggers back at the scene of the murder.
Their personalities reflect the contrary of the social standards and expectations, although as the play continues, it is evidently that it becomes reversed as Lady Macbeth starts to lose her boundary and supposes the more assertive role, while Macbeth supposes the assertive role. As she begins to unwind, Macbeth transforms the more dominant, and stronger force that she does not even need to persuade him to murder the others. On any occasion, Macbeth terrors someone would take his kingship, he would immediately creates plans for their murder. For instance, as Macbeth begins to feel that Banquo would take his kingship he immediately plans his murder saying, “There’s comfort yet; they are assailable. Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown His cloistered flight, ere to black Hecate’s summons.” (Mac.3.2.41-44). From the beginning to the end of the play, the Macbeths’ moderately adopt each other’s common behavior.
The reverse of gender roles in Macbeth throughout the play are distinctly represented in numerous ways such as their ways to their ambition, guilt, and personalities. Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” explores the idea of a stereotypical gender standards through the plot progression of the play, in which the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are reversed. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth change gender roles and specifically show the dominant traits that the other gender distinctly possess. Macbeth clearly breaks the stereotype of a male and is the same with Lady Macbeth with her more masculine traits which also lead to their downfall in the play.