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Question: Macbeth practice exam question: not timed

Read the following extract from Act 1, Scene 7 and then answer the question that follows. At this point in the play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are in conversation. Macbeth has just informed Lady Macbeth that he does not think they should kill Duncan.

Starting with this extract, write about how Shakespeare presents masculinity in the play. Write about:
•how Shakespeare presents masculinity in this conversation
•how Shakespeare presents masculinity in the play as a whole.

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised; yet do I fear thy nature, It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly, That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou’dst have, great Glamis, That which cries, ‘Thus thou must do’ if thou have it; And that which rather thou dost fear to do,
Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither, That I may pour my spirits in thine ear
And chastise with the valour of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round, Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem To have thee crowned withal.

Answer: Shakespeare presents masculinity in Macbeth as being a noble and honourable compliment. Though, at the beginning of the play masculinity is presented as being a courageous attribute, however, by the end of the play a much more multi-dimensional and emotional background towards manhood is proposed by Shakespeare, perhaps in attempt to deconstruct male conventions, and expose them for their repression.
In this extract, Shakespeare presents a repressive exploration of masculinity through Lady Macbeth’s language. The plethora of rhetorical questions used by Lady Macbeth to belittle her husband’s ‘valour’ enhances the presentation of masculinity as courageous and decisive; a man is someone who maintains their promises, unafraid of their consequences. Considering the gender stereotypes that would have been held by the Jacobean audience, the fact that Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth...(short extract)

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  • Subject: English Literature
  • Course: English Literature
  • Level: A-Level
  • Year: Not applicable
  • Mark: Not available
  • Words: 1041
  • Date submitted: October 25, 2019
  • Date written: Not available
  • References: No
  • Document type: Essay*
  • Essay ID: 8751

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