How Gender Changes in Macbeth

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About this sample


Words: 640 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 640|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Gender Ambiguity in Macbeth
  2. The Influence of Macbeth's Ambition
  3. Implications of Gender Change in Macbeth
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, explores the theme of gender in a profound and complex manner. Throughout the play, the characters' understanding and perception of gender roles undergo significant changes. This essay aims to analyze these changes and their implications, highlighting how gender is portrayed and challenged in Macbeth. By examining key scenes and characters, it becomes evident that Shakespeare employs the concept of gender change to explore themes of power, ambition, and the consequences of defying societal norms.

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Gender Ambiguity in Macbeth

One of the most striking instances of gender change in Macbeth occurs in the character of Lady Macbeth. In the beginning, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a dominant and manipulative woman, subverting traditional gender roles. She challenges her husband's masculinity, urging him to commit murder to fulfill their ambitions. Lady Macbeth's famous monologue, "unsex me here," demonstrates her desire to rid herself of her feminine qualities in order to gain power. This moment showcases the fluidity of gender in the play, as Lady Macbeth believes that by rejecting her feminine traits, she can become more powerful and successful.

However, as the play progresses, Lady Macbeth's initial confidence and manipulation give way to guilt and madness. The gender change she undergoes is not a literal transformation but rather a shift in her understanding of power and the consequences of her actions. This change ultimately leads to her downfall, highlighting the dangers of attempting to defy societal norms and expectations.

The Influence of Macbeth's Ambition

Macbeth himself also experiences a significant gender change throughout the play. Initially, Macbeth is portrayed as a brave and honorable warrior, adhering to societal expectations of masculinity. However, his encounter with the witches and their prophecies trigger a change in his perception of power and ambition. Macbeth's desire for power becomes all-consuming, leading him to commit heinous acts to maintain his position as king.

This transformation highlights the destructive nature of unchecked ambition and the ways in which it can challenge traditional gender roles. Macbeth's ambition drives him to abandon his moral compass, demonstrating that power and masculinity are not inherently linked. By subverting the expectations of gender, Shakespeare forces the audience to question the societal constructs surrounding power and masculinity.

Implications of Gender Change in Macbeth

The gender changes in Macbeth not only challenge societal norms but also emphasize the consequences of defying those norms. Lady Macbeth's transformation from a dominant, manipulative figure to a guilt-ridden and mad woman highlights the dangers of attempting to reject one's gender identity in pursuit of power. Conversely, Macbeth's ambition-driven transformation demonstrates the destructive nature of unchecked ambition and its ability to distort one's understanding of power and masculinity.

Shakespeare's exploration of gender in Macbeth suggests that the expectations and constraints placed on individuals based on their gender can have profound effects on their actions and identities. By defying these expectations, the characters in Macbeth experience a change in their understanding of power, ambition, and ultimately, their own selves.


In conclusion, gender change in Macbeth is a central theme that Shakespeare uses to explore the complexities of power, ambition, and societal expectations. By depicting characters who challenge traditional gender roles, Shakespeare highlights the fluidity of gender and the consequences of defying societal norms. Lady Macbeth's transformation from a dominant figure to a guilt-ridden woman and Macbeth's descent into unchecked ambition underscore the dangers of attempting to reject or manipulate one's gender identity. Through these gender changes, Shakespeare prompts the audience to reflect on the implications of societal expectations and the impact they have on individuals' actions and identities.

Overall, Macbeth serves as a powerful portrayal of the ways in which gender roles can be challenged, subverted, and ultimately transformed. By analyzing the gender changes in the play, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding power, ambition, and the consequences of defying societal norms.

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Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2011.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

How Gender Changes in Macbeth. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“How Gender Changes in Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
How Gender Changes in Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
How Gender Changes in Macbeth [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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