Previously, we have seen Lady Macbeth experience visions (the dagger), auditory hallucinations ("Sleep no more!"), and apparitions. Macbeth's capacity to project his fears and anxieties outside of himself seems contrasted to Lady Macbeth's tendency to repress and conceal those same fears. Does gender play a role in each character's "keep it inside" / "project it outside" approach to guilt and repression?

Gender plays a pivotal role in Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's "keep it inside" and "project it outside" approaches to guilt and repression. Lady Macbeth, because of gender norms, feels she has to repress any humane feelings or guilt, while Macbeth can acknowledge these emotions through externalizing them. He can then sever himself from them.

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Gender plays a key role in how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth deal differently with fear and guilt.

Lady Macbeth knows from the start that her internalized female gender norms will be an impediment to her ambitions for herself and her husband. She knows she has to repress every shred of what she considers female weakness and compassion and to present as more masculine than a man for the plot to murder Duncan to succeed. That is why she calls on the spirits to "unsex" her and

Come to my woman's breasts, / And take my milk for gall.

She specifically locates her gender as an obstacle, associating it with a part of her body—her breasts—used to differentiate women from men. She consciously works to eradicate everything her culture identifies as making a woman "naturally" more kind and loving. She realizes that she needs to do this to compensate for her husband, in her opinion, being too full of the "milk of human kindness."

Macbeth can think more rationally about the murder and almost stops himself because, somewhat secure in his masculinity, he can allow himself to contemplate and examine the inhumanity of what they are proposing to do. Lady Macbeth, so insecure about her "female" weakness, can't allow herself that luxury.

Not surprisingly, Lady Macbeth's deep repression ("keeping it inside") of her feelings emerges as the "return of the repressed" through her dreams and sleepwalking as she tries to deal with her guilt through obsessively washing the imaginary blood off her hands. This eventually leads to her suicide. In an opposite way, Macbeth's ability to "project it outside" leads to him severing ties with his humane emotions and becoming dead inside to guilt but also to the capacity to experience joy or other positive feelings.

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