“How does Shakespeare use language to reinforce his ideas in Macbeth?”

Idea: Ambition

Language Examples: 

  • Metaphor
  • Use of Meter
  • Repetition
  • Alliteration

Connect to question, provide insight, supply examples

In the tragedy Macbeth, the idea of challenging stereotypes is a recurring theme. Shakespeare demonstrates it a number of times throughout the text although it is translated strongest through the character of Macbeth’s wife. Lady Macbeth is so determined to fulfill her ambitions and to become all powerful that she was more than willing to convince her husband to kill his cousin for her. The fact that Lady Macbeth was a woman who had such strength over her husband, during a period when women were nothing more than housewives, validates that Shakespeare thinks well before his time. The use of his metaphor in Act 1, Scene 5, which states that for Lady Macbeth to fulfill her wishes she had to think like a man, acknowledges the sexist times he lived in. “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…” He explains, through this metaphor, that Lady Macbeth could only become strong and cruel if she thought like a male. Readers can then conclude that Shakespeare is projecting the notion that men are cruel, however, women weren’t considered as being strong enough to be cruel. Shakespeare cast a woman as his most influential character, as a symbol of power. Despite the fact she was evil, portraying women as more than men’s partners, challenges sexist stereotypes.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. This paragraph demonstrates a confident command of the analytical style required of this kind of writing. You have also selected a line of inquiry (challenging of stereotypes) that is original and as a result have taken the opportunity to test yourself.

    To have improved it further, I would encourage you to look more deeply into the metaphor that you selected. Shakespeare is comparing Lady Macbeth to a vial full of poison, aside from the fact that poisoning is understood to be a favourite method of murder by women, it’s also a very strong symbol for her influence on all around her – including her husband.

    One has to ask, why would a person want to become ‘poison’ – and then when you look further in the play at what she says to justify this action, you’ll only partially find the answer.

    Yes, this does challenge a stereotype, but I would encourage you to comment on what it is replaced with!

    Maybe the play simply is against dire ambition in all its forms?



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