Traits Associated with Masculinity Essay examples

Submitted By PattyKaykk1
Words: 1691
Pages: 7

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English 122
May, 13, 2011
Minds on Masculinity Almost every individual has an idea as to what certain traits and characteristics can be associated with masculinity. Many would say that in order to be masculine, one must have strength, courage, bravery, and aggression. In the play Macbeth, William Shakespeare explores masculinity by showing its darker sides through the characters of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, while also showing how these characters are unable to grasp the full strength of their own masculinity. Alternatively, Shakespeare portrays Macduff as the character who overcomes every obstacle in his path, who reaches every aspect of his manliness, and who defines the basic perception of masculinity. Lady Macbeth, being the wife of a thane, usually would not have very many options to choose from or decisions to make. However, Lady Macbeth proves to the audience that she does not have to be a man in order to make plans and decisions. When King Duncan comes to her home, Lady Macbeth knows that she can no longer be the innocent lady that she is; she must be masculine so she is able to commit the deed that will make her husband king. “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty” (Shakespeare 1.5. 43-46). In addition to her want to become more masculine, Lady Macbeth questions her own husband’s masculinity to such an extent that she appears to be stronger than he is. Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour as thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,” like the poor cat i’ the adage? (Shakespeare 1.7. 42-48)
However, apart from Lady Macbeth’s strong, masculine side, she still possesses the mind of a woman who is filled with guilt and worry. As a result, the guilt from the murder of King Duncan sets into her conscience like a solid brick, and she almost instantly loses all self-control. “What’s done cannot be undone” (Shakespeare 5.1. 62-63). Shakespeare makes it clear through Lady Macbeth that you do not have to be a man to be masculine, but if you are unable to gain control over enough masculine qualities, then you may become completely powerless toward others as well as your own conscience. Macbeth, on the other hand, is seen as a brave, noble, and worthy soldier on and off the battlefield. “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name – disdaining fortune, with his brandish’d steel, which smoked with bloody execution” (Shakespeare 1.2. 18-20). In addition, Macbeth believes that he is only one step away from becoming king, since he has been named the thane of Cawdor. After discovering that the king has declared his son the Prince of Cumberland, Macbeth realizes what he now must do, and he goes out to seek conflict so that as a result, he will remove what is now in his way of becoming king. “The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’er-leap, for in my way it lies” (Shakespeare 1.4. 55-57). Once he and his wife determine what must be done, they make the plans for the night that king Duncan is to be at their home. Regardless of what Macbeth’s ambition has lead him to, he demonstrates the self-centered portion of masculinity by worrying more about himself and less about his wife. Macbeth proves to be ignorant by knowing what consequences will come by his actions, but still taking the risk nevertheless. “That we but teach bloody instructions, which being taught return to plague the inventor: this even-handed justice comments the ingredients of our poison’d chalice to our own lips” (Shakespeare 1.7. 8-12) Through Macbeth’s character, Shakespeare demonstrates just how fast a person’s masculinity can change through ambition and self-interest. Furthermore, if you do not follow your instincts, they will follow you through to your fall. Along…