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Macbeth: Hero or Villian?

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Introduction

Macbeth: hero or villain? The theme of Macbeth that I have chosen to explore is "Macbeth: hero or villain?" The question demands a decision on whether Macbeth is a villain, (as most people assume when reading the play), or is he in fact the misguided hero of the piece, one whose actions are misinterpreted. I intend to prove that he is the latter of these two, a misunderstood hero; a tragic hero. I feel Macbeth falls into the category of tragic hero, the definition of which can be defined as: "an honourable protagonist with a tragic flaw, also known as a fatal flaw, which eventually leads to his demise." Macbeth, at the outset of the play is portrayed as a good and brave soldier who has the respect of all who fight with him, an example of this is shown in Act 1 scene 2 where a captain reports: "For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution, like valour's minion..." This demonstrates the respect for Macbeth that was held not only by this soldier but of the army, it also highlights that the man felt that Macbeth was brave as it uses the term "valour's minion" a literal interpretation of which is that Macbeth is a servant to courage. ...read more.

Middle

He then switches his thoughts to Duncan's virtues and imagines the awful reaction that would follow his murder. Nevertheless, although he tells Lady Macbeth that: "we will proceed no further in this business" There is no real conviction in his words as the only encouragement to follow this path is for Lady Macbeth to call him a coward. "...Art thou afeard To be the same in thine own act and valour, As thou art in desire? ...And live a coward in thine own esteem, Letting " dare not" wait upon "I would," When Macbeth kills Duncan he can be seen to be the villain of the piece as he murdered an innocent man over his own greed. Banquo who was with Macbeth when the witches made their prophecy is perhaps the only one with a true idea of the fate of his last king, this is shown in Act 3 Scene 1: "Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, as the weird women promised; and I fear you played most foully for't..." When Macbeth becomes King he reaches his own pinnacle of achievement. Macbeth is becoming very conniving and has decided that now he is the King he wants all those who may interfere with his crown eliminated. "To be thus is nothing but to be safely thus" This includes Banquo, his one time friend, he shows this when he says: "Our fears in Banquo...who's there?" ...read more.

Conclusion

Even in yielding to death he shows bravery as even though he realises that Macduff is going to kill him he still chooses to fight rather then be taken captive and executed as a traitor. In conclusion, Macbeth as the hero in this piece rouses little feelings of pity in the reader. He has the tragic flaw of being power-hungry, conniving and utterly immoral. A traditional tragic hero has our characteristics, Macbeth does not have two of these: he lacks goodness, it seems that all he does he does for himself or as a means of gaining for himself. He also is not superior as he was referred to by other thanes as a tyrant and incompetent ruler during his kingship. However at the beginning of the play Macbeth is seen as great by several characters, including one in the elevated position of King. Macbeth can also be seen as a tragic hero as he dies at the end of the play and his death has a large impact on the people around him. Also he is in part responsible for his own downfall, in Macbeth's case this is because he chose to let his greed get the better of him. Finally Macbeth could be judged as a Shakespearean tragedy as other people die as part of a tragic chain of events, e.g. Duncan, and Banquo. Word count 1,715 ?? ?? ?? ?? Mrs Little - English Coursework February 2006 Hannah Johnston 11E 1 ...read more.

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