Macbeth as A Tragic Hero
The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean
tragic hero. There are many factors that contribute to the character
of Macbeth of which three will be discussed. Macbeth is a typical
tragic hero through his personality, actions, and qualities.
One of Macbeth's traits that evoke the idea of a tragic hero is that
he is worthy of the reader's interest. A tragic hero must be worthy of
reader's interest, concern, or sympathy. Macbeth shows this through
his bravery. In the begging of the play a battle goes on between King
Duncan of Scotland and Macdonwald of Norway. Macbeth fights bravely on
Scotland's side, and he even killed Macdonwald himself (I. Ii. 9-23).
King Duncan hears of Macbeth's brave and noble qualities and crowns
him the new Thane of Cawdor (I. Ii. 63-65). Edward E. Foster writes
that, "This excellence and honor, which initially qualifies him for
the role of a hero, ironically intensifies the horror of the murder
Macbeth soon commits. Another issue that makes the reader stay alert
is Macbeth's downfall. The process of a tragedy is slow to let the
audience become comfortable with the power and happiness of the main
character. Then signs appear and the main character heads towards
downfall. Macbeth is over his head, and his mind starts to play tricks
on him. "Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand?
/ Come let me clutch thee/ I have thee not, and yet I see thee still"
(II. i. 33-36). In this scene, Macbeth imagines a bloody dagger. This
is the first sign that Macbeth's conscience feels guilty of murder. A
second sign of Macbeth's quilt is when he sees the Ghost of Banquo
(III. iv. 93-107). Macbeth's bravery and downfall are interesting in
Macbeth showed many human flaws in this drama. According to Corley
Olson, "Part of being a tragic hero is possessing a flaw. This flaw
must inevitably lead to self-destruction, the fall of the tragic hero"
(15). One of his flaws is his weakness to be persuaded by others. Lady
Macbeth convinced her husband that he wasn't a man unless he went
through with the murder of Duncan. She threatens his manhood by
saying, "When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And to be more
than what you were, you would/ Be so much more the man" (Act I. vii,
49-51). Macbeth's ambition is also a major flaw. During the play
Macbeth's ambition brought him to achieve his goals but as the play
evolves, it forced him to face his fate. His ambition led him to
become greedy, violent, and power hungry. Corley Olson also writes,
"Macbeth is confronted with the supernatural and prophecy of becoming
king. As this flaw also includes his weakness through over ambition.
One of Macbeth's features that educe the idea of a tragic hero is his
stupendous affect on the other characters in this play....