Macbeth Gender Roles Essay

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In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth the male characters lose their masculinity due to the maternal forces pressing down upon them through the female roles. The characters revert to a primitive way of thinking, which goes along with Sigmund Freud’s personality hypothesis entailing three levels of consciousness. This reveals to the reader that the quest (ambition) for power criss-crosses all gender roles. The characters, specifically Macbeth, revert back to primitive thinking or begin using their id, and begin to lose emotion. In the beginning of the book, Macbeth appears to have emotions by the fact that he cannot sleep after he hears “a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep’” after murdering King Duncan (II. ii. 33-34).…show more content…
However, as time progresses throughout the book and Macbeth makes a handful of violent decisions his lack of concern and emotion begins to appear. When Macbeth receives word that his wife died, he simply responds with “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow”, showing that he could not care less about his wife’s death (V. v. 17-19). In the beginning of the book, if Lady Macbeth had died, Macbeth would not know how to murder Duncan and would probably not hold the throne. This change from the beginning of the book to the middle of the book becomes apparent through the complete loss of emotion towards others and events that have occurred in his life. Ramsey presents the argument that “one of the organizing themes of Macbeth is that of manliness...the more Macbeth pursues his ideal of manliness, the less humane he becomes, until at last he forfeits humanity, only to realize that his concept of manhood is worthless” (Ramsey). The more that Macbeth pursues his idea of manliness, the more he reverts to using his id instead of his ego or superego, according to the personality principle of Sigmund Freud. According to Freud, “Id operates according to the pleasure

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