Macbeth as Tragic Hero
Aristotle defined a tragic character is a man who “falls into misfortune through some flaw." (Grube, 5) Shakespeare's tragic hero is a man who falls from his position of honor and respect due to a flaw in character and ultimately arrives at a fatal end. (Nostbakken, 2) Macbeth is an epitome of a tragic hero. He had a good nature, but was driven by greed and a quest for power. Macbeth had been a military hero, loved and praised by the people, but his blind ambition resulted in his destruction, and all his past greatness and happiness were lost. This essay will explore Macbeth’s path toward destruction and show how he became the epitome of a tragic hero.
Macbeth was obviously a patriot and the protector of the king at the beginning of the play. (Slethaug, 13) We imagine him to be a good warrior with extraordinary prowess and loyalty. He defeated the insurgent troops and was highly trusted. As Duncan said, "He is a gentleman on whom I built An absolute trust". (I.iv.14-15) Even the King had great love in this real hero.
But his was controlled under the supernatural force when he met the witches of prophecy, contributing to the degeneration of this character. When the witches foretold Macbeth that he was to be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glasmis and King hereafter, Macbeth's ambition to the kingship had been aroused. He said, " My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical¡K"(I.iii.140) shows that he started imagining to get the throne by evil means for the fulfillment of the promised kingship. The imperfect speakers of misleading prophecies brainwashed him, striving up his deep ambition and leading him to step closer to the edge of dismal abyss. And later they also gave apparitions to Macbeth, which contributed to his defeat when later his confidence collapsed as illusions failed him (Elloway, 62). Macbeth's steeping in the supernatural put him into tragic.
Lady Macbeth played an important role in the downfall of Macbeth's life to evil. She is a whole-hearted fiend, who played a more masculine and decisive role than Macbeth. (Wain, 104) She knew Macbeth had ambition yet frail, so she poured her evil spirit in his ear. "We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail." (I.vii.69-71) This is the turning point, where Lady Macbeth placed her husband in a false position by upholding him to commit the murder deed, (Elloway, 20) and it is also a point that Macbeth made his wrong judgement in life to get the throne by evil act. After committing the murder he could not turn back anymore from the darkness. The serious error in his judgement, became the flaw in his character, which finally put himself into a great...