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Toi Dright

Ms. Tierce
English IV Gifted
26 March 2015
Manhood
Throughout Shakespeares play The Tragedy of Macbeth, differing views of manhood are
displayed. Men show a range of behaviors that reflect their character from the love of family to
the desire for revenge and the brutality of murder. The theme of manhood is significant because
it displays the characters emotions and motives. Macbeth has displayed masculinity throughout
Act 2 scene 2 as he commits a horrible crime by killing King Duncan. Also, other characters
have exemplified masculinity and manhood, or the lack of it.
In Act 1, after reading a letter from Macbeth, Lady Macbeth has a conversation with the
messenger. The messenger addresses Lady Macbeth and tells her that King Duncan has arrived to
the castle. Lady Macbeth has a soliloquy. During this, she says 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 (I.v.40-41.)Wanting to have deadly thoughts, she asks that the spirits
unsex her, make her blood thick, and fill her with cruelty. Lady Macbeth portrays how she
wants to become a killer like a man. She wants take on the role that a man normally would.
Another reference of manhood occurs in Act 1 scene 7. In scene 7, Macbeth has been
honored by the king and now has love from the people. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he does
not want to go along with the plan to murder King Duncan anymore. Lady Macbeth responds

Wouldst thou have that, which thou esteemst the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine
own esteem.(I.v.41-43.)During this conversation, Lady Macbeth calls Macbeth a coward. He
isnt being manly, or showing his masculinity. This intensifies the plot because now Lady
Macbeth has more control over Macbeth. She really wants this wicked, malicious plan to
succeed, so she persuades Macbeth by questioning his manhood. Trying to defend himself,
Macbeth replies to Lady Macbeth by saying, Prithee, peace! I dare do all that may become a
man; who dares do more is none (1.7.45-47.)Here in this scene, Macbeth explains that a real
man does not kill another man or king. He will risk many things as a man, but he will not murder
anyone. Lady Macbeth replies saying When you durst do it, then you were a man; and to be
more than what you were, you would be so much more the man (I.vii.49-51.) By this quote,
Lady Macbeth is speaking of Macbeths manhood. Lady Macbeth ridicules his manhood, saying
he is less of a man. She views manhood completely different from Macbeth, which may change
later in the play.
After King Duncan is murdered, Macbeth then kills Banquo in Act 3 scene 3. He has too
much ambition and is striving to become king. The witches have prophesized that if he kills
Banquo, the sons will then become king. In Act 3 scene 4, Macbeth is at a banquet where he
begins to hallucinate. As he is filled with fear and guilt, he sees a ghost of Banquo. Lady
Macbeth questions if he is a man. He responds saying he is a bold man. Lady Macbeth says, Oh,
these flaws and starts, impostors to true fear, would well become a womans story at a winters
fire, authorized by her grandam. Shame itself! Why do you make such faces? When alls done,
you look but on a stool (III.vi.64-67.) She scorns Macbeth for his actions in front of everyone,
saying he is acting like an old woman. Macbeths actions arent displaying his manhood, which
differs from his actions previously. However, when the ghost of Banquo returns, Macbeth has a

bolder, manly approach. He screams What man dare, I dare. Approach thou like the rugged
Russian bear, the armed rhinoceros, or th' Hyrcan tiger; take any shape but that, and my firm
nerves shall never tremble. (III.iv.103-107.) Macbeth dares that the ghost comes at him in any
other shape, and he will not show fear. His behavior shows that he isnt afraid. He is portraying
himself as a strong man as his ambition for the throne increases.
Later in the play in Act 4 scene 2, Lady Macduff and her children are brutally killed by
murderers who are hired by Macbeth. Macbeth greed to become king grows as he loses his
humanity. When Macduff receives the news that his wife and children are killed, he holds his
head down. Feeling mournful, he is about to cry because he loves his family. As talking to Ross
and Malcolm, Macduff sadly says All my pretty ones? Did you say all? O hell-kite! All? What,
all my pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop? (IV.iii.222-225). He cant believe his
pretty little children and wife is gone. Malcolm tells him Dispute it like a man(IV.iii.226). He
makes sure that Macduff remains a man and is aware that real men do not cry. Macduff replies
saying, I shall do so, but I must also feel it as a man. I cannot but remember such things were
that were most precious to me. (IV.iii.227-230) He will feel hurt and saddened by the death of
his family. But, Macduff blames their death on himself, stating that he was sinful and wicked.
Then, Macduff displays his manhood as he wants revenge with Macbeth, asking to be brought
face to face with Macbeth. He is putting all the pain and hurt from his family dying into anger
and the desire to avenge Macbeth.
Throughout the play, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the theme of manhood
to make the play more meaningful. We recognize the different views of manhood from Macbeth,
Lady Macbeth, and Macduff. Manhood is significant in this play because it shows the behaviors
of the characters and their conflicting views.