Macbeth Themes


The Relationship Between Cruelty and Masculinity

  • Lady Macbeth tries to distance herself from her gender, whilst also manipulating her husband by insulting his manhood. Macbeth provokes Banquo's murderers by questioning their masculinity. These acts show that they both equate manliness with violence, and whenever they talk about it, violence follows soon after.
  • It could be said, however, that the play traces the root of evil and chaos back to women. The witches are arguably the source of all of Macbeth's troubles, their leader being the goddess Hecate. Not to mention that Lady Macbeth's behaviour shows that women can be as suspicious and cruel as men.
  • Macduff presents a different idea of manhhod. When he learns of his family's deaths, Malcolm advises him to 'dispute it like a man', meaning to go after Macbeth. However, Macduff argues that he must also 'feel it like a man', suggesting…


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