Macbeth as a Shakespearean Tragic Hero
In this essay I will be exploring how far Macbeth is considered to be
a Shakespearean tragic hero. According to A.C Bradley, the man who
defined what a Shakespearean tragic hero is, a typical Shakespearean
tragic hero is a person of greatness and high power. We can see at the
beginning of the play that Macbeth is the 'Thane of Glamis' but is
then promoted, due to the execution of a traitor, to the 'Thane of
A Shakespearean tragic hero also has many character flaws, which lead
to their downfall. Macbeth is an extremely ambitious character; he
knows what he wants and how to get it, even if that means murdering
Duncan to become King.
Macbeth battles with his conscience throughout the play, he feels
imprisoned inside his own mind; this is also a trait that a
Shakespearean tragic hero has. Another typical characteristic of a
Shakespearean tragic hero is that they suffer, usually in contrast to
their previous happier life, and they normally suffer as a result of
their actions. Macbeth causes his own suffering by murdering Duncan,
Macduff's family and Banquo, making the people of Scotland turn
Macbeth actions don't just affect him, they affect others around him,
Scotland and the natural order itself. When Macbeth first murders
Duncan, the "chimneys were blown down and "the earth was feverous and
did shake"; a Shakespearean tragic hero's actions normally affect
other people or the country itself and this is what is happening here.
Normally the audience feel great sympathy for the Shakespearean tragic
hero. The audience feel pity and sympathy for Macbeth because he has
finally got what he wanted, to become King, but he is still no happy
with his life.
A Shakespearean tragic hero always dies at the end of the play, which
also happens to Macbeth.
Macbeth is considered to be very noble and brave at the beginning of
the play; he fought in many wars and battles and proved to be loyal.
The captain says about Macbeth, " For brave Macbeth- well he deserves
that name". The Captain tells Duncan that Macbeth is brave in battle
and that he respects him.
We also find out that Duncan feels the same towards Macbeth, he calls
him his "valiant cousin, worthy gentleman". This conveys how close
Duncan and Macbeth are. It also conveys Duncan's respect for Macbeth
and his bravery. We discover that Macbeth is well respected not just
by noble- men but civilians all over Scotland. Ross says to Macbeth, "
As thick as tale came post with post, and everyone did bear Thy
praises in thy kingdoms great defence". Ross shows us that Macbeth Is
a Hero and is highly regarded.
This is in contrast with the end of the play, when he is perceived as
a "dead butcher". Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are perceived as devilish
and as tyrants....