In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, gender influences the character’s motives. The women in the play, Lady Macbeth and the witches, defy their gender expectations and act as cruel as the men. Additionally, the manhood of the male characters is continuously questioned, which results in further cruelty. While the men in Macbeth engage in direct violence, the women use manipulation to achieve their desires. Thus Shakespeare traces the root of evil in Macbeth to the female characters.
In Macbeth, cruelty is presented as masculine, and the female characters defy their gender expectations to fulfill this idea. Lady Macbeth believes she must become more masculine in order to become cruel. This is evident when she says, “unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty” (Act 1. sc. 5). The three witches are engaging in “a deed without a name” and welcome Macbeth by saying, “Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, whoever knocks” (Act 4 sc 1).
Throughout the play, the manhood of the male characters is questioned, resulting in the murderous activities. Lady Macbeth questions the masculinity of Macbeth by saying, “and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man” (Act 1. sc. 7). In this way, Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to murder Duncan. When Macbeth says, “Bring forth men-children only, for thy undaunted mettle should compose nothing but males” (Act 1. sc. 7), lady Macbeth does not object.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare traces the root of evil to the female characters that manipulate the men to murder. Lady Macbeth does not believe Macbeth has the mercilessness that is necessary to murder Duncan. Therefore, she manipulates Macbeth to assassinate Duncan, which is evident when she says, “Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valor as thou art in desire?” (Act 1. sc. 7) Additionally, the three witches deceive Macbeth to perform additional murders bases on vague prophecies.