Macbeth Essay

Submitted By joenefkens
Words: 582
Pages: 3

Nefkens 1
Joe Nefkens
Mr. Bailey
English 3, Period 7
November 19th 2014
Cruelty in Macbeth Throughout Elizabethan times, England was a place where men were warriors and women were caretakers. While the men fought in armies and killed for their kings, women stayed home and took care of the children. It is no surprise that Shakespeare’s contemporary plays were reflections of the times. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, cruelty and violence are most associated with masculinity. Shakespeare proves the relationship between men and cruelty through Lady Macbeth’s desire to be unsexed, Macbeth’s urge for power achieved through malice to prove his manliness, and the male characteristics of the three weird sisters. Lady Macbeth is a prominent female character in the play whose personality contradicts conventional female nature, who introduces a violent, cruel view of masculinity that is later adopted by her husband. Despite her wicked intensions, Lady Macbeth believes that she is too feminine to act on her greedy urges for power. She believes that because she is a woman, she isn’t capable of committing the brutal murder her husband is having second thoughts about committing. Lady Macbeth wishes “the spirits (would) unsex (her), and fill (her) from the crown to the toe top full of (the) dirtiest cruelty” (Act 1, Scene 5, p. 33, Lines 47-50). Lady Macbeth literally asks for a higher power to take away her female characteristics, and replace them with a masculinity that she defines as cruel. Then, she would be stripped of remorse, and would be able to do what is necessary to make a grab for power. By creating an evil female character that so greatly contradicts the ideal female of the time, Shakespeare shows the reader that women have the same cruel capabilities as men. When Lady Macbeth is unable to kill the king herself, she turns to her husband for help. Although she fears that Macbeth may be "too full o' the milk of human kindness" (1.5.15),a feminine quality referring to nursing mothers, to commit murder and treason, she tries to convince him by questioning his manhood. “What beast was’t then, that mad you break this enterprise to me? 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” (1.7.53-58). Shakespeare’s characters conform to