In Macbeth, how is the relationship between cruelty and masculinity related to the three witches?
Come, you spiritsThat tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,And fill me from the crown to the toe top-fullOf direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.Stop up the access and passage to remorse,That no compunctious visitings of natureShake my fell purpose, nor keep peace betweenThe effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers,Wherever in your sightless substancesYou wait on nature’s mischief. (lines 30-40)
Here, Lady Macbeth implies that "direst cruelty" is not a quality given to women. In order to carry out the murderous plot, she must be "unsex[ed]," or stripped of her feminine qualities and instead "fill[ed]" with "direst cruelty." Her point becomes more obvious when she begs the "spirits" to "Come to my woman's breasts / And take my milk for gall." Instead of the feminine instinct to support, to nurture, she wants to have the...
(The entire section contains 3 answers and 802 words.)
check Approved by eNotes Editorial