It is important to understand the role that gender plays in today’s society, as compared with the gender roles portrayed in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Gender can be seen as a bias both today and in the time in which Macbeth takes place. Masculinity is a strong symbol used within gender throughout the play, and is a parallel with icons today.
Today, gender can be played as a bias in jobs, job interviews, political systems, and social classes. Women are typically labeled as the weaker sex, and the same applies to Macbeth’s time. Women tend to have a harder time today when trying to get jobs that were previously only held by males, for example, the president of the United States. The president is seen as powerful, and a symbol of strength representing the U.S. Unfortunately, because the stereotypical woman is seen as weak, women typically aren’t voted into high-ranking offices. The same unfair balance of gender is seen the same way in Macbeth.
Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are striving towards masculinity. The importance of masculinity to the both of them is an issue of power. Lady Macbeth aspires to be a man so that she can show supremacy and be more of a ruler. Macbeth has a mental struggle with his masculinity, mostly because Lady Macbeth convinces him of it. Because Lady Macbeth cannot really become a man, she has to work vicariously through Macbeth, making him become king. To control Macbeth, she must use his aim to become more masculine, to drive his killing of Duncan. In Act I, Scene I, on line 51, Macbeth affirms, “I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares [do] more is none.” Macbeth is replying to Lady Macbeth when she asks if he is afraid to do the task of killing Duncan. It is important to see how Lady Macbeth uses her husbands strive for masculinity to achieve her virile nature.
When identifying the roles that gender plays today, and contrast them to the way gender is depicted in Macbeth, we can see the two of them are very similar. To date in the United States, we have not had a female president, the highest-raking political office in America. In Macbeth’s time, no women were allowed to be king, which was the highest symbol of power during the time the play took place. Lady Macbeth faces problems with the gender roles, because she wants more power than she is allowed. To work around this, she needs to do her work through her husband, provoking him using his struggle with manhood.
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