An Analysis of Lady Macbeth's Gender Role throughout Macbeth

Shakespeare's Macbeth is a male dominated play. Most of the noticeable characters in Macbeth are male, including Macbeth, Macduff, Banquo, King Duncan, and Malcolm. Despite the lack of female power by numbers, Lady Macbeth proves to be a formidable force of influence. She accomplishes this by psychologically switching genders when the situation is more favorable to a particular sex. Each gender switch brings Lady Macbeth closer to what she thinks she wants. However, switching genders is a feat which requires immense mental strength and towards the end of the play, Lady Macbeth's mental power wanes with guilt and eventually leads to an untimely death.

Lady Macbeth's first mental gender transformation occurs after she reads the letter sent to her from Macbeth and hears of King Duncan's intended visit. She pleads to spirits in Act 1, Scene 5, "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." Lady Macbeth is aware that her intentions of murdering King Duncan are not considered lady-like. Hence, she commands the spirits to "unsex" her, or to strip her of her female sex and replace it with...

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