Macbeth The Tragic Hero Essay

929 words - 4 pages

In William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, Macbeth is a "tragic" hero, in the sense that he is noble and respected at the first of the tragedy, but then leads to his own downfall, because of a character flaw, and outside circumstances such as Lady Macbeth's manipulation, and the witches' prophecies told to Macbeth, which lead to his fatal ambition. Macbeth also brings about suffering to innocent parties, to achieve his own selfish goals, which will eventually lead to his death.

Macbeth, at the start of the tragedy, is a well-respected, savage, "heartless" warrior, and a traditional "hero", much like "Beowulf". He is a veteran of war, and is looked up to by other characters. But, like all characters, he has a flaw, the flaw of easy manipulation that cannot be overlooked. Macbeth demonstrates this behaviour when he shows a strict opposition to Lady Macbeth's idea for Macbeth to kill King Duncan, and Lady Macbeth challenges Macbeth's manhood, and with that, Macbeth crumbles his opinion at Lady Macbeth's feet. "When you durst do it, then you were a man; And, to be more that what you were, you would be so much more the man" (1.7.49-51). That is, Macbeth has become as malleable as clay, and will perform the duties of Lady Macbeth who wishes to further her social status from a lady thane, to queen. Her aspirations will lead Macbeth and lady Macbeth to a downfall. When Macbeth realizes how he has been manipulated, and feels regret for killing Duncan, Macbeth utters, "This is a sorry sight" (2.2.21), and Lady Macbeth replies with a very cold-blooded "A foolish though to say a sorry sight." (2.2.22) Overall, Macbeth was manipulated, which leads to the start of his fatal ambition, and ultimately, his downfall.

Another character flaw of Macbeth is that he is stubborn, and when the witches' second apparition tells him "Laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." (4.1.79-81), and the witches' third apparition tells him "Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him." (4.1.93-95), then Macbeth feels he is invincible, because it would be impossible for the trees to jerk their roots from the ground, and attack him. Also, when Macbeth is told to beware of Macduff, Macbeth hires murderers to slaughter his family, in hopes to bring the fleeing Macduff to Dunsinane. With that, Macduff brought his army to attack Macbeth, and Dunsinane, using the cover of trees from Birnam Wood, and the cover or darkness, thus fulfilling the part of the prophecy of Macbeth's death told to him by the third apparition. Feeling stubborn, not able to face his death, and invincible, Macbeth continues the...

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