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Is Macbeth truly an evil-tyrant, or is he a tragic hero?

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Introduction

Is Macbeth truly an evil-tyrant, or is he a tragic hero? The first thing that we must take into account when analysing Macbeths character is that he is a normal human being, and like normal human beings, he has moments of weakness which when played upon can result in huge mistakes. The story of Macbeth is an example of power at the expense of everything else. He begins the play as a strong character, much admired and respected, and we witness his personality and actions become more and more deceitful which eventually leads to his destruction. The first thing we hear of Macbeth is people singing his praises. We hear the Captain say 'For Brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name...' and Duncan greeting him, 'O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman.' Surely somebody so highly praised could not be an evil person...? Macbeth was an honourable gentleman with no criminal tendencies. With so many people praising his courageous fighting, he returns from a victorious battle, puffed-up with self-love that demands ever-increasing recognition of his greatness. The first flaw in his personality is that he takes the praise too much to heart and begins to believe that he deserves great rewards. When he then meets the weird sisters, they prey upon his new-found egotism, predicting his greatest dreams to be reachable. ...read more.

Middle

He was not born evil and until this point in his life, has never been evil. However, Lady Macbeth is a clever woman and knows what effect her words will have upon her husband. She deliberately hits him where she knows it will hurt him - questioning his manliness. When he tells her his decision to not kill him, she immediately uses every tactic she can think of to lure him into changing his mind. She uses descriptions such as 'green and pale' - e.g. sickly and weak to accuse him of cowardice and lack of manliness. She also bribes him with emotional blackmail, claiming that if he loved her he would do it and that she would rather kill her own baby than break a promise she had made to him. Using vicious imagery describing how she would rather '...have plucked her nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out', she convinces him to continue with the murder. I don't know about you, but if I had my true love using phrases like that to blackmail me into doing something, it is likely that I would buckle and give in. Macbeth is trying to keep his partner happy, rather than do it for his own benefit, which is another reason I believe that he is not an out-and-out villain, as we all possess the desire to please people. ...read more.

Conclusion

She says this as a command or a statement, showing her extreme bossiness over him. This shows us that his fantasy of being great and powerful is untrue, because he still basically is ruled and prepared to listen to her advice and is still not totally dismissive of her opinions. However much he wishes to believe that he is untouchable and brave, he is deeply fearful to the state of irrational, crazy behaviour when he witnesses Banquo's ghost. By the end of the play, we see the old Macbeth coming back through, the fair fighting warrior who will battle to his death... Even when he knows his time is up, he acts as a true soldier should - he fights to his death and refuses to kill Macduff saying 'My soul is too charged with the blood of thine already.' Does that sound like the words of a ruthless tyrant with no emotions...? It doesn't to me. I would sum up Macbeth as an unfortunate character who was led into the path of evil, and continued it through knowing that he had already committed the ultimate evil and nothing could undo it, or make it any worse. He buckled into the power his wife had over him and let his own ambitions get the better of him. An unfortunate trail of fate that led him to his own death... ...read more.

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