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Macbeth as a Tragic Hero

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Introduction

Macbeth as a Tragic Hero must have some potential nobility, some good qualities that make his downfall terrifying. He must be examined as a human being with human weaknesses. Is he one who, as Lady Macbeth says, Act I, Sc. v, "is too full of the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way" or is he the "butcher" that Malcolm considers him to be in the final scene of the play? Or is he a victim of his ambition or of moral weaknesses or of his limited concept of manliness, or even of a combination of circumstances that cause him to fall? From the opening scene Macbethh is chosen as a target for temptation; the witches, as agents of evil plan their trap; so the stage is set for his downfall. * Brave - We learn of his physical prowess and bravery on the battlefeild - "brave Macbeth", "valour's minion", "valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!", he is an eagle, a lion, "Bellona's bridegroom". These are the outward signs as seen by the Captain, Duncan and Ross, Act I, Sc.ii. * Prone to Tempation - Yet in the following scene we observe his interest in the Witches' predictions. He is tempted - "Your children shall be Kings" ; but temptation is not guilt. When Ross tells him he has been made Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth asks, "why do you dress me in borrowed robes?" Does this suggest that, at this stage, he wants no honours that are not rightfully his? * A Materialist - In this soliloquy (aside) in Act I,Sc. iii we see how the fulfilment of the first prediction is working on him. Does he show himself to be a materialist here, looking for success and closing his eyes to the fact that achievement and goodness do not necessarily go together? Is this what Lady Macbeth sees in him when she says in Act I, Sc. ...read more.

Middle

Is his refusal to fight after he had learned that Macduff is not "one of woman born" a sign of cowardice? Why then does he fight him? Is it because Macduff calls him "coward" and his concept of manliness cannot stand this? Or is it because he cannot bear to be humiliated in public and so forfeit his pride? Is there despair in his final words, "Yet I will try the last" ? Or is he heroically accepting Fate, knowing that he must die? Dead butcher or Tragic Hero? Given similar circumstances what might we do? Lady Macbeth is a controversial figure. She is seen by some as a woman of strong will who is ambitious for herself and who is astute enough to recognise her husband's strenghts and weaknesses, and ruthless enough to exploit them. They see her in her commitment to evil and in her realisation that the acquisition of the Crown has not brought her the hapipiness she had expected, and finally, as one who breaks down nuder the strain. Others see her as a woman ambitious for her husband whom she loves. She recognises the essential good in him, and feels that, without her, he will never win the Crown. She allies herself with the powers of darkness for his sake, but here inherent(congenital) femininity beraks down under the strain of the unnatural murder of Duncan and the alienation of her husband. She is seen as simple and realistic where Macbeth is complicated and imaginative. She can see what must be done; he visualises the consequence. There is a vast difference between Macduff's "O gentle Lady 'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak The repetition in a woman's ear Would murder as it fell." ACT II, Sc.ii and Malcolm's assessment of her as a "fiend-like queen" (Act IV, Sc.vii). So we must examine the text. To Macbeth, in his letter to her, she is his "dearest partner of greatness", an indication of love and trust. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth's ambition is deep within him and because of this, both the witches and Lady Macbeth are able to sway him to evil. It is this ambition that gets him into so much trouble initially. Once Macbeth kills for the first time, he has no choice but to continue to cover up his wrong doings, or risk losing everything he has worked so hard for. In the end, it all comes to Macbeth himself. Everyone is responsible for his own destiny. This is an essential theme in this tragedy. Macbeth chooses to gamble with his soul and when he does this it is only him who chooses to lose it. He is responsible for anything he does and must take total accountability for his actions. Macbeth is the one who made the final decision to carry out his actions. He made these final decisions and continued with the killings to cover that of King Duncan. However where as some facts show that the results were all of his own doing, in act IV he returns to the witches voluntarily to find out his fate in order to see what actions he should take. This shows that maybe the witches did have a great influence on his actions. The killing of Duncan starts an unstoppable chain of events in the play that ends with the murder of Macbeth and the suicide of Lady Macbeth. Macbeth chooses to murder Duncan. Macbeth, in the beginning had all of the qualities of an honourable gentleman who could become anything. This is all shattered when his ambition overrides his sense of morality. Although Macbeth is warned as to the validity of the witches prophesies, he is tempted and refuses to listen to reason from Banquo. When the second set of prophesies Macbeth receives begin to show their faults Macbeth blames the witches for deceiving him with half truths. While the witches are not totally responsible for the actions of Macbeth, they are responsible for introducing the ideas to Macbeth which in turn fired up Macbeth's ambition and led to a disastrous and unnecessary chain of events. ...read more.

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