This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Challenging Gender Roles In English Society

2779 words - 12 pages

Challenging Gender Roles in English Society

The age of Shakespeare was characterized by an overwhelming tendency for women to be looked down upon as the inferior gender. Women of the time were expected to be submissive, dutiful, obedient, and predominantly silent. The idea of an independent, out-spoken woman would have challenged all of the societal values of the time. Shakespeare, however, challenged the traditional patriarchal values of his time by introducing powerful and highly influential female characters in some of his most memorable plays.

Lady Macbeth and her earlier counterpart, Volumnia, both serve pivotal roles as dominant and commanding mother figures and also challenge ...view middle of the document...

5. 16-18). Lady Macbeth recognizes that her husband’s impressionable nature leaves him vulnerable. His inability to withstand the pressures of his conscience presents Lady Macbeth with the difficult and irritating task of convincing him to perform the actions which could provide him with lasting success. In her own mind, there is no question as to the necessity of carrying out such actions; the only difficulty lies in emboldening her hesitant spouse.

Her own husband recognizes her overwhelming intensity as being more attributable to males saying, “Bring forth men-children only! / For thy undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males” (Macbeth 1.7. 73-75). In this instance, Macbeth is facing the realization of his wife’s strength as well as his own weakness. Lady Macbeth is effectively challenging his manhood by employing traditional male attributes better than he. Macbeth realizes that his wife’s nature is undesirable in terms of societal expectations for a female. The traits which his rambunctious wife possesses are, in reality, suitable only for males. As William Hazlitt suggests, “…obdurate strength of will and masculine firmness give her the ascendancy over her husband’s faltering virtue” (Hazlitt 14). Whereas Macbeth appears to be the more impressionable character who is easily swayed, Lady Macbeth is portrayed with the traits of a more traditional male character. She recognizes her own strength and power over her husband and uses this knowledge in order to manipulate Macbeth in hopes of attaining greatness for them both.

The intensity with which Lady Macbeth pursues her goal and her determination in persuading her husband would have been atypical of women in English society during the mid to late sixteenth century. Her characteristics seem to cross the gender barrier and, therefore, present her as being almost inhuman. As she calls forth evil spirits to assist her in her pursuit, one cannot help but think that she has not only crossed the gender barrier, but transcended into the realm of the unnatural.

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! Make thick my blood;
Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! (Macbeth 1.5. 40-50)

It would have been difficult for audiences of the time to imagine a woman who could be so cold, calculating, and, in terms of her female characteristics, inhuman. Lady Macbeth is surrendering all of the characteristics which distinguish her as a female and, subsequently, make her feel weak. The difficulty presented to the audience, however, is the idea of a woman who could embody such masculine traits. In this instance, Lady Macbeth becomes a sort of...

Other Essays Like Challenging Gender Roles In English Society

Gender Roles in Macbeth Essay

4846 words - 20 pages are as capable of moral indignation and of violent response to wrongs "as the next man." But Macbeth, like his wife before him, undermines this position by declaring that this hardly qualifies them as men or even as humans, except in the merely zoological sense. There is simply no intrinsic distinction, no fundamental basis of identity to be had in declaring one's male gender and beyond this one's membership in the human race. What Macbeth in the

Analysis Of Gender Roles In Different Civilizations

2595 words - 11 pages It is clear that throughout the Western tradition men and women occupied different roles in different civilizations. Separate rights and privileges were awarded to either sex based upon the places that their cultures designated for them. Though every culture had those that would (often justifiably) upset the order of things by challenging conventional gender roles, ultimately, one was more likely to be confined by the limitations of what

Roles of Women in the Society

934 words - 4 pages Name Tutor: Course: Date: Roles of Women in the Society The changing role of women in the society has significantly affected their contribution in various aspects of human life such as family, religion, politics, government and business. Traditionally, their roles were always inferior to that of men in all structures and organs of the society, but this has significantly changed with the current insistence on gender equality and respect

Women In Othello: Gender Roles In Elizabethan England

1469 words - 6 pages women. As women feel it is important to be with a man, they give up everything to them. If society portrays men as gods, it can only mean that women are the worshipers. However, in present day society, men and woman are considered equal and no gender is lowered or raised in their identity and righteousness. Furthermore, men try to silence their wives if any issues arise. When Emilia tells Othello that her husband orchestrated the plot, Iago

English Society in the 14th Century

1171 words - 5 pages English Society in the 14th Century The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, is recognized as the first book of poetry written in the English language. This is because poetry was often written in Italian or Latin not English, even writers from England wrote in the other languages because English was considered low class and vulgar, but after Chaucer's writings were published they became a recognized and legitimate work. The

The Negative Impact Of Gender Roles In Othello

1375 words - 6 pages While there have been a great number of changes in the world since Shakespeare wrote Othello, there are a few truths about humanity and society that remain true. Othello is notorious for it’s examination of race, but is not given enough credit for its observations of gender. Iago embodies masculine gender roles in a severe and exaggerated way, allowing his desire for proving his masculinity to corrupt him morally. Iago then turns and uses his

Roles And Functions Of Law In Business And Society

937 words - 4 pages Roles and Functions of Law in Business and Society Introduction William O. Douglas said, "Common sense often makes good law." Well that is what laws essentially are, rules and regulations that make sure common sense is followed. One could even say that laws are enforced ethics. Laws serve several roles and functions in business and society, and this paper will discuss those roles and functions. What is law? According to Reference.com (2007

Functions and Roles of Law in Business and Society

729 words - 3 pages Functions and Roles of Law in Business and Society xxxxxxx LAW/421 xxxxxxx Functions and roles of law in business and society The governance of business through state and federal laws is a very complex system. Many laws, statutes, and regulations are in place to protect the consumer and the business. These laws stem from city ordinances in local municipalities to Congress’s broad commerce powers that have the final say. Each of

Social Changes in Gender Roles in the Tenant of Wildfell Hall-Ann Bronte

2375 words - 10 pages changes affected the gender roles in the early 18th century (1832-48). Furthermore detailing how the change challenged traditions and ideologies of the then rather prominent English common law, and the normative principle’s that surrounded motherhood. The Critical sources that bear the utmost relevance to the challenging social content that the tenant demonstrated are Monica Hope Lee’s essay a mother outlaw vindicated: social critique in Ann

Husband And Wife: The Semiotics Of Gender Roles In Latin America

2658 words - 11 pages meaning of each sign . Within Latin American society some of the most ingrained cultural signs are those that refer to concepts of religion and gender roles. The signs of Husband and Wife within Latin American culture come with very powerful signified characteristics that define not only marital relations, but also the ways in which men and women function within society. In the movie "Amores Perros" the abusive and one-sided marital relationship of

The Value Of Gender And How It Represents The Body In Society

1658 words - 7 pages and the feminine traits attributed to women are biologically determined. While biology may play a part in male and female behaviour society plays an equal stronger role in influencing the extent to which men and women adopt masculine or feminine characteristics. “The significant of sex and gender in the lives of member of contemporary western societies “by ( Le Guin ). As these quote indicates that sex plays a critical roles in the life of the

Related Papers

Kids And Gender Roles In Contemporary Society: How We Are Perpetuating Gender Inequality

2383 words - 10 pages that’s just the way it is. Or is this approach to gender inhibiting the advancement of true gender equality? Although many parents would disagree, there is mounting evidence to suggest that raising children to fulfill strict gender roles is a major contributor to continuing gender inequality in American society. For the sake of clarity, let’s define the word “gender.” Socially, we associate the word “gender” very closely with the word “sex”, to

Teenage Prostitution As A Response To Gender Roles In Japanese Society

2013 words - 9 pages Teenage Prostitution as a Response to Gender Roles in Japanese Society Buuuzzzzzzz. “Oh, a page,” says Michiko to her friend, “give me a minute to check it.” She pulls out her mobile phone and dials the number to check her messages. This message is from one of her regular customers, Mr. Tanaka. He would like to meet this afternoon at the little restaurant next to the same “love hotel” they used last week (a place that rents theme rooms

Gender Roles In Teaching Essay

2445 words - 10 pages express themselves with ease. We are all individuals who have certain preferences and teachers have to see these as positive and cultivate the strengths of their students. Gender roles play significant roles in society and are mirrored in classrooms. It is important to de-emphasize the stereotype placed on male teachers, especially in elementary schools. Gender and gender role effects all of us and being aware of this, as well as displacing notions

Gender Roles In Macbeth Essay

1279 words - 6 pages him vulnerable enough for Lady Macbeth’s power to control most his actions. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s real personalities contradict the many stereotypes medieval society has for men and women. Shakespeare challenges these stereotypes in order to show his reader how each human is different. Each person’s individuality goes way beyond just their gender. It is just one part of a person, and it doesn’t define who you really