Macbeth By Shakespeare Tragic Hero Essay

963 words - 4 pages

Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero fits Macbeth very well. In Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, Macbeth has all of the characteristics that are needed to be a tragic hero. Macbeth is a man of great potential and is a man of noble birth, he has a tragic flaw with a downfall and moment of recognition, and also creates cathartic feelings of fear and sadness. These qualities that he possesses help shape himself as the tragic hero of Macbeth.

In the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Banquo are returning from a battle between the Scottish and Norwegians. They have won the battle for King Duncan, and this shows Macbeth's loyalty to his king. Macbeth is related to King Duncan, which is how he fulfills being a man of noble birth. Macbeth and Banquo meet three witches as they are returning to Scotland, making three prophecies. The witches say "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis...thane of Cawdor...All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!" (I.3. 49-50). These three prophecies show how he has become thane of Glamis, how he will become than of Cawdor, and eventually become King. This is part of his great potential. He has already accomplished so much, but still has so much more to live for because one day he will be king.

At first Macbeth does not believe the witches, but soon after, Ross tells Macbeth that the current thane of Cawdor is going to be killed. This surprises Macbeth, because already the witch's first two prophecies have come true. Macbeth thinks, and becomes ambitious. He realizes that he is no where near the runner-up if Duncan is to die because he has sons that would be heirs to the thrown before him. Macbeth's tragic flaw is ambition, which he will carry out until the end of his life, bringing down himself and Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth does not help in the matter because she wants to become the queen. She encourages Macbeth to act on the witches prophecies and make sure that he is guaranteed to be king. Macbeth's ambition causes him to deteriorate both morally and mentally, for it is his ambition that causes him to kill Duncan.

Macbeth commits the murder while Duncan is in his sleep. He is so nervous that he brings the dagger back with him that he used to kill Duncan with, and Lady Macbeth tells him to bring it back. He says "I'll go no more. I am afraid to think what I have done..." (II.2.50-52). Immediately after killing Duncan, he realizes that it was a mistake and that it should not have happened. Lady Macbeth assures him that their deeds were done for a good purpose, and that a little water will clear them of the deed.

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