Macbeth's Complex Character Essay

1136 words - 5 pages

In the comprehensive history of philosophy, Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder, beliefs of three well known Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, are discussed. According to the book, Plato’s philosophy consisted of the idea that all beings were formed from a universal “cookie cutter” which resembles its perfect form derived from a higher state of being. Aristotle, Plato’s most famous pupil, did not accept his teacher’s philosophy. Instead, Aristotle claimed that each being stands alone in this world. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is a person of high and noble standing whose downfall is caused by some moral weakness or flaw. Using Aristotle’s philosophy, we can then conclude that a tragic hero can stand alone in the world and undergo changes that could alter the term “tragic hero” and its validity. An ideal example of this is William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. In “The Scottish Play,” Macbeth’s heroic qualities are clear at the beginning of the play. As the play progresses, Macbeth shows some moral weakness that leads to his downfall. Eventually, Macbeth renounces all of his heroic qualities, eventually becoming tyrant. All of these events show that Macbeth undergoes multiple personal changes that keep him from being labeled as a tragic hero.
The play Macbeth begins with the main character Macbeth being portrayed in a positive light. In the beginning, Macbeth is seen as a brave Scottish general who fights both valiantly and courageously. At the time, Macbeth also held the honorable position of Thane of Glamis. Early in the first act, Macbeth contributes to the defeat of the Irish rebels challenging Scotland. Macbeth manages to defeat the traitorous Macdonald, winning the glory for Scotland and further strengthening his own personal glory. In the second scene of act I, King Duncan is seen having a conversation with an anonymous injured captain who witnessed Macbeth in battle. In the exchange, Macbeth is described as a brave and ruthless leader. Duncan then proclaims, “So well thy words become thee as thy wounds: They smack of honor both. Go, get him surgeons,” (lines 47-49). The most important aspect of this quote is Duncan’s approval for Macbeth. At this point and time, things are looking advantageous for Macbeth. He is about to be recognized as a war hero, he has King Duncan’s approval, and it is revealed in the play that he is about to receive the position of Thane of Cawdor. Each one of these aspects describes the archetypical hero. Unfortunately for Macbeth, he is ignorant of what is to come, which will change him and keep him from being labeled as a tragic hero.
Despite Macbeth starting in a positive light, as the play progresses, he starts to show elements of being a tragic hero. These tragic qualities are enabled and facilitated through his wife, Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth was fully aware of prophesies made by the “wyrd” sisters who claimed that Macbeth would not only become the Thane of Cawdor, but he would also ...

Find Another Essay On Macbeth's Complex Character

Macbeths Charicter Essay

1142 words - 5 pages macbeth During Act 1, the audience is presented with many views of Macbeth and it is difficult to decide whether he is good or bad. Macbeth is a complex character and it is too difficult to decide whether Macbeth is simply good or bad; the question has to be looked at in more detail. Macbeth is introduced to the audience as the Thane of Glamis; soon afterwards he becomes Thane of Cawdor due to his help in the battle against the Norweigians, as

Faults and Strengths of Macbeth Essay

578 words - 2 pages invincible. Another character plays a part in Macbeth's downfall as well. Macbeth's own wife, lady Macbeth, learns of the witches prophesying of her husband becoming king through a letter by Macbeth (312). She tells Macbeth of how he should reign over Scotland and he should kill Duncan if necessary because they would benefit from Duncan's death (317). She tells him she will not love him anymore and challenges his manhood to convince him to kill

Macbeth - His Importance in Drawing the Reader's Attention in the Play.

1330 words - 5 pages In the play 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare, a character that is important in drawing the readers interest, is the protagonist character Macbeth. Macbeth is a complex and interesting character because of his actions, the way he is contrasted with other characters and because of the vivid imagery in his dialogue. The way that Shakespeare portrays Macbeth, makes him an interesting person for the readers to imagine.The first of Macbeth's actions

Exploring death in Macbeth

1764 words - 7 pages they ambition. They become 'tyrant' and 'tyranness'.Macbeth's loyalty to Duncan is not so complex. In the beginning Macbeth and Duncan were family and loyal like family and Macbeth at this point would never dream of hurting him in any way, but that was before the witches poisoned his point of view. After he, Macbeth, is appointed Thane of Cawdor, he thinks about killing Duncan but then brushes it away like the "ill" thought it is and then

Different Perspectives of Macbeth [Act 1]- in "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare

919 words - 4 pages A person's reputation is how others see him and his feelings towards that person. Character is all the qualities such as feelings, thoughts, written, and verbal expressions a person portrays. Both reputation and character describe a person but from different perspectives. There are many perspectives of Macbeth, for he is a complex character. He is praised as a brave and valiant man by the sergeant and King Duncan. Then Macbeth is considered a

Discussion of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

5153 words - 21 pages Macbeth avoids using the word 'murder', by substituting it with "surcease" or "blow". This also suggests his reluctance to commit the crime. The repetitions of "done it" are euphemisms for the murder about to take place. The soliloquy is a device used to reveal Macbeth's thoughts. Macbeth's speech shows us his disturbed, divided and unstable mind, which makes him a complex character. Seeing as Macbeth's intricate


1224 words - 5 pages a text is shown by the symbols they reference. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's guilt is lodged in their conscience, and is revealed by the constant symbol of blood and washing their hands. When Macbeth says, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?"(II.ii.78-79 Shakepeare), it is a reference to how his guilt permanently stained his character. The ocean is a hyperbole that demonstrates that the stain cannot fade. Also


1224 words - 5 pages a text is shown by the symbols they reference. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's guilt is lodged in their conscience, and is revealed by the constant symbol of blood and washing their hands. When Macbeth says, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?"(II.ii.78-79 Shakepeare), it is a reference to how his guilt permanently stained his character. The ocean is a hyperbole that demonstrates that the stain cannot fade. Also

Crucial Scene in Macbeth: The Dagger Soliloquy

1070 words - 4 pages to his cowardice." From then on, there's a grim acceptance of the deed and Macbeth bids the earth to "hear not his steps". According to Samuel Johnson, "that Macbeth wishes to escape the eye of providence is the utmost extravagance of determined wickedness", yet Bradley interprets Macbeth's aligning himself with evil as "frightfully courageous". From such varied analysis emerge a humanly complex man driven by his internal turmoil to the point

Relative Influences on Macbeth to Kill his King in Shakespeare's Macbeth

2161 words - 9 pages him think about his duties as a kinsman, a subject of the King, and a host to his guest. He also thinks about the fact that all crime is punished, whether it be in this life or the next. One of Macbeth's most justified reasons against murdering the King, is that his death would be mourned throughout Scotland, and regarded as a tragedy in the extreme. Macbeth also begins to think about King Duncan's kind-hearted and trusting character, and how he

The Transformation of Shakespeare's Macbeth

922 words - 4 pages facet of his evil--ruthlessness--is displayed. Driven by a dangerous persecution complex and by pressure from Lady Macbeth, he orders the assassination of Banquo and Fleance and of Lady Macduff and her son. The attempted murders of Fleance and Lady Macbeth's son make it clear that Macbeth has no qualms about killing not only his enemies but the innocent as well. Being so deeply immersed in murder and death takes away his ability to feel; when Lady

Similar Essays

Lady Macbeth Is The Most Interesting And Complex Character In The Play. She Is, In Fact, The Point On Which The Action Pivots: Without Her There Is No Play.

990 words - 4 pages Lady Macbeth is the most interesting and complex character in the play. She is, in fact, the point on which the action pivots: without her there is no play.Macbeth's most interesting and complex character is most certainly, as the question states, Lady Macbeth. The purpose of this essay is to describe Lady Macbeth's role in the play and discuss why this makes her the most fascinating character. Her evil doings are the main reasons why she

The Downfall Of Lady Macbeth In William Shakespeare's Macbeth

1791 words - 7 pages breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers. (I. v. 39-40, 46-7) In the harsh words of Lady Macbeth's soliloquy, she substitutes ambition for her repressed sexual complex. Her strong-willed speech makes her appear to be very courageous when, in actuality, she is suppressing her genuine underlying cowardice (Coriat 219). Consciously, she believes in her volition; however, her unconscious complexes are the factors that

Lady Macbeth's Character And Its Change Throughout The Play

1581 words - 6 pages Lady Macbeth's Character and Its Change Throughout the Play Lady Macbeth's character throughout the play changes very dramatically. At the start of the play she is portrayed as a powerful, manipulative woman who doesn't have second thoughts about plotting to kill the King of Scotland. However after the "dirty deed" is done Lady Macbeth's character seems to disintegrate. She suffers a nervous breakdown and apparently

Lady Macbeth: Guilty Or Innocent? Essay

1285 words - 5 pages , "She should have died hereafter; / There would have been time for such a word." (V.v.17-18). Lady Macbeth's guilt is her end.How others treat Lady Macbeth is an important factor to look at when looking at the character of Lady Macbeth. During the play, it is made clear that Macbeth dotes on her and clearly loves her as much as a man can. Macbeth respects his wife. It is also clear that Lady Macbeth has a leash on Macbeth and this also leads to