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Is Macbeth A Traditional Tragic Hero?

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Is Macbeth A Traditional Tragic Hero? 'Macbeth' was written in the 1600's in honour of King James the first of England, whom was also known as King James the sixth of Scotland. It is a play based on King James' ancestors whom were Banquo and Fleance. 'Macbeth' is a play perfectly written for an Elizabethan audience. It contains elements of superstition, and tragedy, both of which Elizabethan audiences loved. There are five features, which a character must have in order to be categorised as a tragic hero. The first of them is that they must be of noble birth. The second is bravery. They must have a fatal flaw, which helps drive them throughout a story or a play. They must cause suffering to others and, lastly, at the death of the character, the audience should feel a sense of loss at their death. The tragic hero is a literary tradition that dated far back in to the depths of history. Though it is old it is still used today. When one reads Macbeth, one can see that Macbeth does appear to posses the qualities that are required in order to be a tragic hero. We know Macbeth is of noble birth from the following quotation. "O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!" (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 24) Duncan says this after he had heard about Macbeth's victory. By Duncan referring to Macbeth as his cousin, it shows Macbeth is related to Duncan, thus showing one that he has royal blood inside of him. It also insinuates that Duncan appears to have a high opinion of Macbeth and he regards him as a brave man. ...read more.


(Act 2, Scene 3, Line 141 - 142) In this quotation Malcolm and Donalbain discuss how the closer in blood they are to Duncan the more danger they are in. They do this in the form of a metaphor. They are also saying that no one has any idea who killed Duncan and it could be anyone. Not only are Malcolm and Donalbain grieving for their father, they are also in fear of their lives. By their hasty retreat, others are left thinking that Malcolm and Donalbain are the possible assassins of the Duncan. Banquo also suffers at the hands of Macbeth. "O, treachery! Fly good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou mayst revenge. O slave." (Act 3, Scene 4, Line 17 - 18) Macbeth has three murderers set free to kill Banquo and Fleance. This does not work as Fleance escapes from the murderers. Shakespeare has used repetition here to emphasise Fleances escape. From Fleance's escape, Macbeth should have known that already he is unable to fight the witch's prophecies Macbeth wants them killed because the witches had told him earlier that Macbeth would never have any children and so he would not have successor to the throne. Instead, Fleance would gain the throne. In order to try to prevent this from occurring, Macbeth plans to have them both killed. Macbeth has now killed one of his close's friends in order to keep the throne. This shows he has already started to commit great travesties to stay as King. As a repercussion of Banquo's death, Fleance suffers having seen his father die and seen a threat on his own life. ...read more.


The quote also goes along with the theme of appearances being deceptive, which runs through the play. Even though Macbeth had killed, betrayed, and lied, one still feels a sense of loss at his death. One can see the potential Macbeth had to be a great man. Yet his ambition over rode his other senses leading him to hunger for the throne. Had he not tried to reach so far above himself, he may have been a well-respected man and he may have even been given the throne. Though one knows Macbeth should pay for his sins, one still hopes he does not die. There is a catharsis of emotion over his death. One feels pathos for Macbeth because the witches have tricked him in to his situation. One also fears the picture of the world the witches have painted. It is of one where no one has any control over his or her own destiny. One feels he has paid the price for murdering his fellow men and one feels justice when he dies. Yet one does not blame the catastrophic situation only on Macbeth. One must look at all the other factors involved in Macbeth's plans. The witches and Lady Macbeth are partly to blame as well. Macbeth does fit the structure of a traditional tragic hero as he possesses all the features required in order to be categorised a 'tragic hero'. One of the main reasons why 'Macbeth' still attracts many people from all kinds of varying backgrounds is due to it relevance. Even though this play was written over four hundred years ago it still has a basic structure that is still used in many books and movies today to attract large crowds. Nakita Bhamra English 10sk Ms Saville Macbeth Essay ...read more.

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