Gender roles in Elizabethan society were extremely distinct. Men were seen as the rulers of the household whose strength was determined by their physical dominance and bravery in war. Women, on the other hand, were thought of as solely housewives whose most important tasks were to care for their children and subserviently support their husband. Due to these strict, traditional guidelines, it was seen as extremely scandalous and disorderly to break free from one's gender roles, especially if one was a member of Britain's nobility. Shakespeare therefore expresses the unthinkable in his play, Macbeth, in which the main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, break traditional gender roles. In our examination of the Macbeths and the Macduffs, we will compare and contrast the actions and behaviors of each couple. As we explore how each couple either abides by or defies traditional gender roles, our group will determine if, according to this work, Elizabethan society was correct in its assumption that people must maintain their traditional societal roles in order to avoid disorder and chaos.
Essentially, is it more progressive or more destructive for an individual to break free from the gender roles dictated by the society in which he or she lives?