This thesis analyzes the ambivalent definition of manhood in Shakespeare's Macbeth. It explores the normative cultural constructions of masculinity carried forth from ancient times to the Renaissance to situate the character of Macbeth in the realm of heroic masculinity. By applying the framework of Freud's psychoanalytic theory, particularly in its interpretation of gender and the role of the unconscious, Shakespeare's male hero's struggle to establish, maintain and defend his masculinity becomes comprehensible. The societal and cultural expectations that define masculinity appear at odds not only with the world of the play, but with the world in general. Culture and society alone do not shape identity; deeper and more complex psychic structures explain human motivation and behavior. Studying the character of Macbeth in the light of the influences of the cultural and psychoanalytic, the notion of masculinity gains new meanings.
English & Comparative Literature Department
MA in English & Comparative Literature
Date of Award
Online Submission Date
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Library of Congress Subject Heading 1
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Macbeth.
Library of Congress Subject Heading 2
Macbeth, King of Scotland, active 11th century -- In literature.
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(2015).The paradox of masculinity in Shakespeare's Macbeth [Master’s thesis, the American University in Cairo]. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
Elenany, Howayda. The paradox of masculinity in Shakespeare's Macbeth. 2015. American University in Cairo, Master's thesis. AUC Knowledge Fountain.