One of the most disputed aspects of the play is the gender roles casted in it. A feminist reading would accuse the play to be dismissive of females considering how all female characters seized to exist by the climax. Marilyn French had dubbed the drama, “A total masculine world”, however in response to this view point it can be argued that it was the manipulative or emotional power females had on the male characters that started the chain of events for this tragedy. The masculinity of Macbeth was sarcastically questioned by Lady Macbeth “...live a coward in thine own esteem...”, this effectively spurred his need to prove himself not cowardly and therefore manly. Yet believing her husband isn’t manly enough Lady Macbeth conjures the spirits in her soliloquy, “unsex me...” pleading to transcend the limits put on her because of her gender. Joan Larsen Klein suggests that this is Lady Macbeth not wanting to physically become manly but rather, “... act with the cruelty she ignorantly and perversely identified with male strength.” Lady Macbeth is a character who recognised the limits for those of her gender in a patriarchal society and longs to act otherwise. However Macduff is a character aware of the fact that men are meant to repress emotion. Yet when he hears that Macbeth murdered his family, in responses to Malcolm’s suggestion, “Dispute it like a man,” Macduff also wants to, “...feel it as a man”. With Macduffs emotive reply Shakespeare presents the responder with another character who is contradicting stereotypes of gender roles, bringing to the responder’s attention that it is merely a human’s response to act on emotion regardless of their gender. Through the drama Shakespeare questions society’s stereotypical views on male and female responses, emphasising the fact that they are all people overcome by emotion and regardless of their gender it drives them.
Furthermore, Shakespeare explores the corrupting power that unchecked ambition holds through Macbeth’s character. At the beginning the witch’s prophesised to Macbeth that he will become Thane of Cawdor, then the ’King’. Not believing it at the start Macbeth moved on, until he was named Thane of Cawdor. His mind then wonders to thoughts of becoming king, “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical...” It’s evident from Macbeth’s aside that immediately he thinks of murder, thereby showing the responder how instantaneously his thoughts become corrupt. Macbeth’s conscience causes him to second guess his plan to kill Duncan, “For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires” Macbeth objectifies his ambition, the darkness he associates with his desires or ambition implies that he knows the wrong in it. However through the use imagery and rhetorical question, “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/ The handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee;” Shakespeare illustrates how Macbeth is so overcome by his ambition that it’s overriding his own conscience. Macbeth essentially