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Macbeth as A Tragic Hero

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Elmer Barnes Mrs. Cox English IV Honors December 18, 2001 Macbeth as A Tragic Hero The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. There are many factors that contribute to the character of Macbeth of which three will be discussed. Macbeth is a typical tragic hero through his personality, actions, and qualities. One of Macbeth's traits that evoke the idea of a tragic hero is that he is worthy of the reader's interest. A tragic hero must be worthy of reader's interest, concern, or sympathy. Macbeth shows this through his bravery. In the begging of the play a battle goes on between King Duncan of Scotland and Macdonwald of Norway. Macbeth fights bravely on Scotland's side, and he even killed Macdonwald himself (I. Ii. 9-23). King Duncan hears of Macbeth's brave and noble qualities and crowns him the new Thane of Cawdor (I. Ii. 63-65). Edward E. Foster writes that, "This excellence and honor, which initially qualifies him for the role of a hero, ironically intensifies the horror of the murder Macbeth soon commits. Another issue that makes the reader stay alert is Macbeth's downfall. The process of a tragedy is slow to let the audience become comfortable with the power and happiness of the main character. Then signs appear and the main character heads towards downfall. Macbeth is over his head, and his mind starts to play tricks on him. "Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand? ...read more.


Macbeth uses the service of three murderers to elimate Banquo (III. iii. 7-18). Denton Snider writes, "He who put down the traitor has himself become the successful traitor, and has secured his position by removing Banquo (212). The final change in Macbeth is that he once fights for Duncan, and then he murders him. Before being transformed into a murderous monster, Macbeth is a model Scottish noble. He shows great loyalty and devotion to King Duncan in his fight against the Scottish rebels. Macbeth turns his back on Duncan when he is persuaded to kill King Duncan (II. ii. 14). According to Corley Olson, Macbeth stands especially apart because here the hero becomes progressively evil" (42). A tragic hero often has an extraordinary destiny within his grasp (Phillips 123). Macbeth feels that he is destine for greatness and he is not happy by just being the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth fights courageously on Scotland's side during the battle between King Duncan and Macdonwald. According to Edward Foster, "Macbeth has just returned from a military success that has covered him with glory in defense of the crown. He is rewarded by the grateful Duncan, with preferment as Thane of Cawdor" (3591). From this scene on, Macbeth's ambition plays a huge role in him wanting to become king. In Macbeth's actions, he violates many morals. The play examines the effects of evil on Macbeth's character. One moral that he breaks is the murder of King Duncan. Macbeth's ambition influences him to commit this crime. ...read more.


Macbeth is not good because he murders his king nor bad because he puts his life on the line for him. Anthony Bond recaps Macbeth's qualities by saying, "His strength is not resisting grace. He has the stature of a saint in reverse, a fallen angel, and is terrible and magnificent in equal measure" (47). Macbeth shows many qualities of a tragic hero. To qualify for a tragic hero, a character must lose the respect of his fellow men (Erring 213). The first sign of Macbeth losing respect is when Banquo suspects him of killing Duncan (III.i.1-10). Banquo becomes suspicious of Macbeth and notices that Macbeth's prophecies are all coming true. He suspects that Macbeth may have something to do with the murder to make his prophecy real. Macbeth's actions also lose the respect of Macduff. Macbeth feels that if he kills Macduff's family, Macduff will return to Scotland. Once Macduff finds out that his family is dead, he is furious and loses all respect and honor for Macbeth. Corley Olson writes, "For one of Macbeth's punishments is that he can no longer be a part of humanity or break bread with his fellow man." This statement clearly explains that Macbeth definitely loses respect for others. Macbeth is a true Shakespearean tragic hero. He has many noble qualities as well as several tragic flaws. He is a courageous and brave nobleman who is haunted by superstition and an overwhelming ambition. In conclusion, Macbeth's personality, actions, and qualities show that he is the ideal tragic hero. ...read more.

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