• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9

Macbeth is the perfect example of a tragic hero - Lady Macbeth.

Extracts from this document...


Lady Macbeth essay Tragedy has been used as a dramatic form since the 4th century BC. As it is still a frequently used and extremely popular technique today, there must be something captivating about it. Aristotle defined tragedy in 'the Poetics'; he wrote that 'it deals with serious moral issues of great importance, like ambition, revenge and political power.' Because it deals with very human issues such as these, the audience can feel empathy towards the characters in the play. A tragic hero is always somebody noble, but a flaw in their character or an intervention from the Gods (this idea was especially used in earlier theatre such as that of ancient Greece) which means that their fortunes are reversed. They create a state of chaos; however, order is always restored by the end, leaving everything calm and peaceful. Shakespeare developed and changed the form of tragedy in his plays. One thing he did was to make it more 'human' and personal. Everything that happened was a direct result of the hero's actions and especially their flaws. Another thing he changed was the time-span. Classical tragedies all take place in one day and one location. On the other hand, Shakespeare's tragedies take place over weeks or months and in a variety of different locations. Macbeth is the perfect example of a tragic hero. At the beginning of the play he is brave, noble and loyal; everything that a Thane should be. But the flaw in his character, his ambition and love of power, force him to kill Duncan and, in doing so, secure his own downfall. Typically of Shakespeare, Macbeth is completely aware of what he is doing and of the consequences of his actions; everything that happens is a direct result of them. Macbeth seems to embody the great struggle between good and evil. Take, for example, his famous soliloquy in Act 7 Scene 1, where he is battling with himself, deciding if he should kill Duncan. ...read more.


She speaks in formal prose throughout, which makes her words more believable, for Duncan if not the audience; 'All our service In every point done twice, and then done double, Were poor and single business to contend Against those honours deep and broad wherewith Your Majesty loads our house.' She is treating him as an honoured guest, making sure that nobody suspects her or Macbeth after he has been murdered. This reinforces the idea that she is clever and scheming. It also shows a large amount of self-control on her part, as she is able to hold up this act. In Act1 Scene 7, when Macbeth voices his doubts and fears about murdering Duncan. She viciously scorns him; 'Was hope drunk Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since? And wakes now to look so green and pale At what it did so freely?' She uses the metaphor of being drunk to show how weak and pathetic Macbeth is being. She is trying to enrage him, as she is so furious with him. She questions his love for her, saying that 'from time so I account your love.' It is obvious that they love each other deeply, and she is trying to weaken him by doing this. Lady Macbeth seems to take his fright as a personal insult and a sign that his devotion to her is lacking. One of the most powerful lines in this scene is when Lady Macbeth is showing her own devotion to him: 'I have given suck, and know How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me- I would while it was smiling in my face Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this.' This is a very powerful emotive image, which is meant to shock and repulse the audience. Shakespeare has built up an image of a vulnerable baby, 'smiling in my face' and then shows just how cold-hearted and reckless Lady Macbeth is, that she would have 'dashed the brains out.' ...read more.


Both of them suffer from not being able to sleep, and I will study the effects of it on Lady Macbeth later. Act 5 Scene 1 is the last that Lady Macbeth appears in. As the play develops, she has become a less and less significant character, as she does not hold the power in her relationship with Macbeth any more. In this scene, Lady Macbeth enters sleepwalking. She is talking about past events, and the audience get the impression that she has finally gone completely insane. One theory could be that the witches have cast a spell on her and she is bewitched, but personally I think that she is subconsciously wracked with guilt from murdering Duncan, and all the other deaths that it has caused. Her lack of proper sleep is ironic, as in Act 2 Scene 2, after Macbeth has murdered Duncan; he is terrified, and talks about never being able to sleep again: 'Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more: Macbeth does murder Sleep, the innocent Sleep' She is scornful of his fears in this scene, telling him that: 'You do unbend your noble strength, to think So brain-sickly of things.' So it is ironic for the audience that she now cannot sleep properly. There is rich dramatic irony in this scene, which can be compared to Act 2 Scene 2, after Duncan's murder. At the beginning of the play, she called upon darkness, but now she 'has a light by her continuously'. This shows how she regrets what she did, and it seems as if she is trying to banish these dark spirits by keeping a light with her. The gentlewoman tells us that she has been spending a lot of time rubbing invisible stains on her hands, trying to get them off: 'It is an accustomed action with her, to seem Thus washing her hands. I have known her continue In this a quarter of an hour.' This is ironic because she told Macbeth that a little water would rid their guilt, but now she can still see the bloodstains there. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. A classical tragedy tells the story of the downfall of a great man.

    I am Thane of Cawdor. If good? why do I yield to that suggestion, Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, And make my seated heart knock at my ribs..." Banquo and Macbeth leave to see the King. Although the witches do not appear again until Act 4, we can

  2. Discuss how Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth and how her character develops during the play

    Scene 3 'A little water clears us of this deed./ How easy it is then'. It is clear to the audience that Lady Macbeth has to found it as 'easy' as she had anticipated. She now has confusion and turmoil in her mind, whereas before she was confident and sure of what needed to be done.

  1. 'Macbeth' gives us a classic example of the literary definition of a 'tragic hero'. ...

    Macbeth is dealing in ambiguous terms. Part of Macbeth's soliloquy is as so: Now o'er the one half-world Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate's offerings; and wither'd murder, Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf, Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, With Tarquin's ravishing strides, toward his design Move like a ghost.

  2. 'My dearest partner of greatness'. Explore the Relationship Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth Throughout ...

    LM: And when goes hence? M: To-morrow as he purposes. LM: O! never Shall sun that morrow see. Lady Macbeth's 'And when goes hence?' can be interpreted in many ways, but it is most likely that Shakespeare has her trying to discover Macbeth's feelings and whether he is plotting to kill Duncan without actually asking him.

  1. Discuss the role of Lady Macbeth in the play. Is it Lady Macbeth or ...

    Macbeth's resolve fails him, in his soliloquy, he is in agony with his doubts, and he decides against following through with the plot. We see her talking to Macbeth about killing Duncan. He thinks of all the reasons why he cannot kill his king.

  2. How does the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth change throughout the play?

    ambition had driven him so much that he was becoming cold hearted, Macbeth speaks in such a way to his wife that she become bewildered by what he is saying, as he only gives away small bits of information about the murder of Banquo and Fleance which is to follow.

  1. Macbeth: Tragic Hero or Dead Butcher?

    make him kill Duncan " Art though afeared to be the same in thine own act and valour..." So Lady Macbeth feels that she must persuade Macbeth into killing Duncan. She does this by playing on his manhood and calling him names.

  2. English Macbeth coursework-Is the supernatural wholly responsible for the tragedy that occurs or is ...

    this scene we see that Macbeth is regretting his devious actions, yet this passes very quickly. Lady Macbeth shows very little regret or remorse. One can reason that she couldn't commit the murder herself so she can't be all evil.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work