According to the classical view, tragedy should arouse feelings of pity and fear in the audience. Does Macbeth do this?
Tragedy has most definitely influenced the viewer’s thoughts on Macbeth within this play. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the audience sees a gradual breakdown in the character of Macbeth himself, due to the tragic events that unfold during the play. This has a direct effect on the audience’s views and thoughts of Macbeth, thus creating pity and fear within the audience. Macbeth, being a man and a human being himself, is in-clined to some forms of temptation, to which man himself has quite often succumbed. The guilt that Mac-beth experiences after the death of his beloved King Duncan also experienced in every human’s life, gives the viewer much pity for Macbeth, as they also felt sorrow for the wrong outcome in succumbing to tempta-tion. The sword appearing in front of Macbeth's eyes during [II.i.37] gives both fear and pity for Macbeth. The death of Banquo, which was ordered by Macbeth, gives the audience fear for the extreme lengths Mac-beth will go to. Then only a scene later the audience witnesses a paranoid Macbeth visualises the ‘ghost’ of Banquo. The audience felt sorrow and pity for Macbeth, after the announcement that his wife had died. Finally in the death of Macbeth at the finalé of the play, the audience has a final ounce of pity to give to Macbeth.
Macbeth and Banquo were on return from their great victory, when stopped by three witches [I.iii.]. The witches had a ‘prophecy’ that involved Macbeth and the ruling throne of Scotland. The witches meet Mac-beth and are ready to discuss his future, which is only known by themselves.
"All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee Thane of Glamis! … All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! … All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter! …"
Three witches [I.iii.49-50]
Macbeth being in a state of shock and confusion is in some way attracted to this prophecy; he is lured by the thought that he will be king, and king he shall be very soon.
"Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more. By Sinel’s death I know I am Thane of Clamis But how of Cawdor? The thane of Cawdor lives, A prosperous gentleman; and to be king Stands not within the prospect of belief…"
The audience sees how Macbeth is introduced into taking over the throne of his great friend Duncan. This unleashes pity and fear within the audience, because they felt for a man succumbing to grievous temptation. The events in which took place after this increase our pity of Macbeth. The audience sees a grown, noble and mighty officer degraded into a pool of immense guilt.
Macbeth was, shortly after the murdering incident, driven insane by the immense guilt produced by his withered conscience. The dagger that was used in the killing of King Duncan haunted him before the murder took place. This tragedy in the play gives us both fear of where the sword came from and pity for...