William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” explores and challenges the idea of traditional gender roles and/or
gender norms. The female characters in this play have a strong sense of masculine traits while the male
characters are actually shown with feminine traits, reversing the stereotypical roles of genders. One of the
typical gender norms in society is that men are the workers and providers and essentially the strength of the
family, as women take more of a nurturing and caring role and are labeled as emotional and inferior. From this,
a man’s physical strength is represented as being strong and brave at superior and horri

c times, yet in
Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it shows that they, the men, can end up weak while the women remain “strong” as
shown multiple times between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. The roles between the Macbeths’ progressively
transition throughout the play showing how the stereotypical gender norms are challenged and explored.
The Macbeths obviously do not represent the stereotypical husband and wife. Within the

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rst couple acts of the
play when Lady Macbeth is being introduced we can see the sense of dominance and power in her character
over her husband, Macbeth, which is not the average stereotypical trait of a woman. Lady Macbeth blatantly
distinguishes herself as the dominant force in the relationship. For instance, when Macbeth is hesitant of how
to manage King Duncan’s visit to their home, Lady Macbeth instantly seizes control of the situation, demanding
that Macbeth lets her take control of the situation as shown in “Let me handle tonight’s preparations, because
tonight will change every night and day for the rest of our lives.” (1.5. 57-60). This is an example of how the
gender roles are reversed as the men/husbands of our society are usually portrayed as being assertive or
dominant to handling situations, not the women/wives.


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