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The deviance of lady macbeth in macbeth a play by william shakespeare

The Gender Deviance and Selfless Love of Lady Macbeth The gender ambiguous person first appears as not-woman, but then the person appears as something actually even more scary, not-man. Not-man and not- woman, the gender ambiguous… is also not androgynous or in-between; this person is gender deviant. Love is one such human desire, and society attempts to define and control it through creating a strict hegemony for gender norms: Through all these routes of defining and understanding Lady Macbeth, arguments are merely continuing to work within the generally accepted ideas of femininity and masculinity, but this dichotomous idea of male versus female love proves to be insufficient, since Lady Macbeth fits in neither gendered binary ideology of love.

On the other hand, when critics are not describing her as a fiend-like queen, she is pushed to the other end of the polarity, and readers go to great lengths to redefine the hegemony of feminine love and describe her as a selflessly loving angel. In doing this, critics are attempting create a new form of feminine love—one that is forced to form specifically to the characteristics and actions of Lady Macbeth. However, this new ideology for feminine love, in which a woman avidly asserts her selflessness to emphasize her femininity, breaks down just as quickly as the old ideology of feminine love, which claimed that a soft, gentle, and nurturing nature was necessary for the female to reveal her love.

The duty, then, rests upon the woman, and as it is seen through the play, the consequences of fulfilling her duty fall upon the woman as well. She acts, knowing that he will not make the effort to achieve his potential future, for his benefit. She does not neglect to recognize the potential of failure, but rather than quitting the effort as Macbeth seems to do, she pushes through the doubts and attempts an impossible feat in spite of the opposition.

In this, it is clear that self-destruction may be an action, independent of gender, which signifies love.

Further, Gerwig continues establishing a dichotomous separation, or a binary opposite, between masculine love and feminine love by claiming one to be selfish and the other to be selfless, which, when considering Macbeth, Romeo, and Hamlet, cannot be proven to be true. Thus, although Gerwig argues for her love, rather than her insanity, by arguing that she happily sacrifices herself in service to her husband due to her femininity, he still confines her within the context of her gender, which is the exact distinguishing feature that causes other scholars to note her self-destruction as insanity.

Despite the arguments for Lady Macbeth working within or redefining the idea of female love, it is clear that the only way one can attempt to argue for her femininity is by making a generalization about feminine love and forcing her into it, solely based upon the fact that she is a female. Those critics who cannot believe that Lady Macbeth acts out of any cultural idea of femininity are left claiming that she is masculine in her love, which continues the dichotomous separation of masculine and feminine love.

This makes it seem as though the intense and compulsive form of love that Lady Macbeth reveals is characterized as masculine, while a more nurturing, comforting love would be considered feminine.

It seems as though it is not possible for her to be shown as a both loving and female character, since to be loving in this circumstance means to assume masculinity. It is argued that she desires wickedness and brutality, and that she must equate this wickedness and brutality with masculinity, revealing her desire to take on a masculine identity Ancona par.

However, in making this argument, rather than the simple polarity of angel or madwoman, neither of which Lady Macbeth can easily fit into, critics introduce another option for Lady Macbeth, that of her being a loving or confused woman who must take upon her shoulders masculine power and courage, and, in effect, rid herself of femininity in an effort to fill herself with masculinity.

Clearly though, Lady Macbeth is neither masculine nor feminine.

As she pursues becoming non-woman, critics assume that she pursues becoming man, and although it is true that Lady Macbeth attempts to rid herself of femininity, it is not true that in ridding herself of femininity, she attempts to take hold of masculinity. However, she does not ask for it to be replaced with the typical characteristics of masculinity—strength, fortitude, or aggressiveness.

Instead, she asks that the milk of her breasts—something which denotes her female body—be taken for something which is totally non-human, total cruelty and bitterness.

She is making no attempt to seize any type of masculine power, but she is attempting to rid herself either gender, to sacrifice her gender in order to help her husband, which makes her appear, in effect, non-human.

Although maternal, nurturing qualities do signify femininity within the gender ideology of the day, it is not true that taking a baby and dashing its brains out signifies masculinity in any way. Again, she is not sizing any masculine quality by declaring to Macbeth her willingness to violently murder a baby, but she is revoking affiliation with either gender and creating an affiliation between herself and cruelty, or self-destruction.

Therefore, Lady Macbeth cannot be argued to having taken hold of masculinity unless one claims that being devoid of gender and harboring cruelty and bitterness are distinctly masculine qualities. Thus, Lady Macbeth does make an effort to rid herself of feminine characteristics, but in doing so, she does not attempt to size masculine characteristics. Her misrepresentation and stigmatization is then due to her actions surpassing the boundaries of the ideological apparatus of both feminine and masculine love, as well as the dichotomous binary of masculine versus feminine love, for both Romeo and Hamlet act in self-destructive, seemingly insane ways, yet because neither of them transgress the ideology of masculine love, they are both quickly and easily seen as loving characters.

In the play Romeo and Juliet, the ways in which Romeo flaunts his love to Juliet function well to establish the idea of an inextricably intertwined, signifying relationship between love and self-destruction.

  • In this, her resolution to help her husband at any cost is again exhibited;
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  • This is understood in light of the fact that she took her effort toward self-destruction into the realms of her eternal salvation or damnation;
  • Lady Macbeth then decides that she will help her husband, and in doing this, she begins the process of her own self-destruction.

As is often noted, Romeo signifies the idea of love, and he can be seen to be synonymous with love in that he is consistently overcome with love. As it will be seen, he is also consistently overwhelmed with a desire for self-destruction. The appearance of love—joy and peace—is here being compared to the reality, which can be seen in sighs and tears.

Romeo quickly escalates from speaking of love in self-destructive terms to speaking of his literal self-destruction based upon his love. This relationship may be revealed further through the way Shakespeare puts the language of self-destruction in relationship with the language of love through the characters Hamlet and Queen Gertrude in the play Hamlet.

His grief for his father is deep, and it is destroying his soul. In saying this, he is describing the intensity of his grief for his father, saying that he would rather die or commit suicide than have to live without his father. Starkly contrasted to Hamlet, Queen Gertrude lacks any notion of self-destruction, and for this, Hamlet accuses her of indifference toward the death; thus, her lack of grief, which should be shown by outward methods of self-destruction, reveals an inward lack of love.

Here, she is the foil to Hamlet in regards to love and self-destruction, in that she does not only lack grief, but she also almost refuses to grieve deeply for her dead husband. The the concept of self-destruction, then, is intricately woven into the concept of deep love, and there is a signifying relationship between the two, Thus, where there is true love, there will be self-destruction. Therefore, the downward spiral of Lady Macbeth into complete self-destruction reveals the true, deep, and intimate love that Lady Macbeth holds for her husband.

First of all, this reveals that as a wife, her attention and focus are on her husband, his words, and his success rather than herself. From the beginning, Lady Macbeth is characterized in terms of her relationship with and support for her husband, Macbeth, being introduced as a supporting, loving wife. It is important to note that her thoughts do not yet turn to herself, to whether his future would be helpful for her or not; rather, she takes up concern solely for her husband, and this reaction to the prophecy of her husband becoming King outlines the process of selfless, self-destructive love that she will embark on in an effort to advance her husband, giving up all her rights to her femininity, her sanity, her life, and her the deviance of lady macbeth in macbeth a play by william shakespeare salvation in an effort to promote her husband to Kingship.

She knows that her husband desires to be King, and she knows that he, when left alone, will not be able to do what it takes to get to the throne. Lady Macbeth then decides that she will help her husband, and in doing this, she begins the process of her own self-destruction. The decent into self-destruction begins with her soliloquy, which is essentially an effort to declare herself as nothing—as completely empty of everything human—in order to be filled with enough strength to push her husband to greatness.

Again, it is important to note here that she is not asking the spirits to take her milk for masculinity, but to take her milk from gall. She is not willing to let her gender get in the way of helping her husband; she chooses not to hold on to herself for even one moment.

The deviance of lady macbeth in macbeth a play by william shakespeare

Thus, rather than her pursuing cruelty because she is inherently cruel, she is pursuing cruelty for the sake of advancing her husband, a self-destructive action made from the wellspring of love.

When Macbeth does not give Lady Macbeth free reign to implement her plan, she rids herself of every motherly quality that she had once retained. Furthermore, the softer he becomes, the more she must commit acts of self-destruction in order to help him. She continually tries to push Macbeth into his rightful role by showing him the actions he must take, but he always questions and doubts them.

Thus, rather than Lady Macbeth taking on the masculine characteristics which her husband lacks, she simply uses masculinity to taunt him, and when she realizes that Macbeth will not commit the necessary actions, she does everything she can to step into his desired role. At this point, she has effectively evidenced her love for Macbeth in her willingness to sacrifice her spirit and her gender through ridding herself of her femininity and maternal qualities.

Furthermore, in Act five, the next level to which Lady Macbeth destroys herself—the relinquishing of her sanity— is made public. Two… Hell is murky… Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him? Upon watching her, the characters in the play as well as the readers of the play notice her degrading sanity.

Many critics use this instance to point to her never having had stable sanity, due to the desperation and wretchedness in her brokenness.

Even though her intentions are good, she becomes overcome with guilt, and due to this, she lets the extreme extent to which her emotions, self-control, and arguably, her sanity, have been destroyed slip out.

Although she had done all this in a firm resolution to neglect herself for the sake of her husband, it seems as though her sanity is really slipping away, and she realizes that she is not strong enough to follow through, which is now causing problems for both herself and Macbeth in attaining their ultimate goal.

Although Lady Macbeth has pursued the course of self-destruction throughout the whole play, there is one point in which her strength and resolution to help Macbeth fails. Here, Lady Macbeth regains some of her original characteristics, and she is unable to follow through with the murder because the King resembles her father.

  • Many critics use this instance to point to her never having had stable sanity, due to the desperation and wretchedness in her brokenness;
  • Women and Revenge in Shakespeare;
  • Cleopatra and lady macbeth [8] shakespeare borrowed the story from several tales in macbeth by william shakespeare the royal play of macbeth.

In this, her resolution to help her husband at any cost is again exhibited. It is important to note here that she convinces herself to push forward with the plan, not by calling herself masculine or feminine, but by referring to herself as an adult, fearless, rather than a child. Lady Macbeth, seeing after all that she is not strong enough to continue helping Macbeth, but is at the mercy of her own conscience and guilt, realizes that she is causing harm rather than helping Macbeth gain the crown.

This is understood in light of the fact that she took her effort toward self-destruction into the realms of her eternal salvation or damnation. In this, she rejects eternal salvation and gives herself to eternal damnation for the Kingship of her husband. Because of this, it is clear that for Romeo, Hamlet, and Lady Macbeth, self-destruction signifies love, and in light of this, Lady Macbeth, being the most thoroughly self-destructive character, is also the strongest embodiment of love.

The proponents of this theory believe that, because an early modern English audience would have seen the antithetical positioning of gall and grace as true, Shakespeare must have been intending to portray Lady Macbeth in that light. When looking for reality, the hole in the immediate inverse correlation between gall and grace is clear.

Thus, rather than love and self-destruction being recognized as two separate signifiers, in reality, there can be degrees of gall in grace as well as degrees of grace in gall. Love and self-destruction are merely different signifiers of the same, with self-destruction being a signifier for, rather than an antithetical concept of, true love. However, the gendered binary opposites of love as revealed through the ideological apparatus of the day must be deconstructed, and it is clear that Lady Macbeth neither functions from within femininity or masculinity, but simply from love, which is signified by her self-destruction, rather than by her gender.

  • Thus, rather than her pursuing cruelty because she is inherently cruel, she is pursuing cruelty for the sake of advancing her husband, a self-destructive action made from the wellspring of love;
  • Our first assigned play was macbeth by william shakespeare from their actions, it is clear that lady macbeth, and later, macbeth himself,.

If Lady Macbeth had stepped back and decided to hold onto her gender, while watching her husband fail to attain the crown and success that was prophesied over him, it would have been obvious that she not only did not love him, but was indifferent toward him and his success.

Her action of pushing him forward, and in doing so, self-destructing on every level, does not reveal a selfish, unloving disposition, but, in essence, it reveals her intense concern and love for him and his success at whatever cost to her femininity, maternal qualities, overall gender, bodily life, and ultimately, her eternal salvation.

Works Cited Culler, Jonathan. The Roycroft Shops, 1929. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Mark W. Mowat and Paul Werstine. Women and Revenge in Shakespeare: Gender, Genre, and Ethics.