The history of our civilization has equated masculine traits to the qualities we look for in a good leader. Since men have held most leadership positions until recently, the values we have been looking for have historically been masculine in nature. Now that more and more women are coming into leadership positions, it is only natural to ask why. Would the world be a less violent place if women held the majority of leadership positions? Does a woman in a leadership position have to embody masculine characteristics or simply those of a good leader? In Macbeth, Shakespeare explores and challenges our ideas of traditional gender roles regarding leadership, power, and masculinity. Shakespeare readily identifies some of the stereotypical values that he finds represent masculinity. I think he leaves the question of what masculinity truly is open for the audience to decide. .
In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is shown to be brave, courageous, honorable, strong-willed, and in control. Macbeth looses these strongly masculine characteristics when he realizes that the witches and their prophecies are now in control of his life and future. From this point in the play, Macbeth expresses extreme emotions, much thought of as a stereotypical feminine characteristic. Other people heavily influence Macbeth's actions throughout the rest of the play as well. Decisiveness is a stereotypical masculine characteristic in my mind. Macbeth's ability to make decisions is brought to an end when he succumbs to the fatalistic predictions of the witches and to his wife. In these ways Macbeth switches from a masculine role to a traditionally feminine role. .
Lady Macbeth embodies many masculine characteristics, but at the same time maintains her femininity to some extent. She is very ambitious in controlling Macbeth's decisions and uses extensively masculine tactics to persuade him in her direction of thinking.