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Macbeth: Tragic Hero or Dead Butcher?

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Introduction

Macbeth: Tragic Hero or Dead Butcher? At the end of the play, Malcolm dismisses Macbeth as a "dead butcher." However, some might see Malcolm as being biased in his opinions, due to the fact that he only hears about Macbeth's actions- which is bad enough seeing as rumours are often embellished, but also because the audience gets a more in-depth view of Macbeth's character. Another reason that Malcolm's views are a little unjust, is that Malcolm is still angry at Macbeth for killing his father, blaming him and Donaldbain for the murder "We hear our cruel cousins are not...confessing their cruel parricide," and for stealing Malcolm's rightful title as king "True my lord." He is also still grieving for his father "Our tears are not yet brewed." For these reasons, Malcolm cannot rationally judge Macbeth and goes by what he knows- Macbeth is ruthless and a traitor " This tyrant whose sole name blisters our tongues, once was honest..." As audience members who aren't involved, we must weigh up all of the evidence and make up our own minds about the situation. "present fears are less that horrible imaginings" Macbeth has several fatal flaws. The first is his "...vaulting ambition," and the second fatal flaw is the fact that he is too involved in his own thoughts. ...read more.

Middle

This indicates that subconsciously Macbeth feels as though he needs a reason other than his ambition to go to Duncan and murder him. This new state of mind never leaves Macbeth as he beings his many soliloquies which continue to plague him until his death. It is Macbeth's soliloquies however that shows us the full depth of Macbeth's character. His first soliloquy it seems is in Act 1 scene 7, when he agonises over killing Duncan. In this soliloquy, it seems that Macbeth understands the consequences of his possible future actions and he knows that if he kills Duncan, then it will haunt him "Bloody instructs...to plague th'inventor." Macbeth rarely speaks directly of killing Duncan. Instead, he uses euphemisms like "it", "tis" and "assassination." This also shows that the act of murder intimidates Macbeth. In this soliloquy in particular, a lot of antithesis are used "...like angels...against the deep damnation..." This shows that he is in two minds about killing Duncan and that Macbeth feels there is only one reason to ahead with the murder "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition..." Macbeth does however go ahead with the murder and afterwards, is conscious-stricken as he struggles to say "Amen." ...read more.

Conclusion

Most of the play revolves around Macbeth's weaknesses but especially his soliloquies and hallucinations. Your actions must lead to your death but you regret your errors. Macbeth becomes so power hungry that he must kill everything in his way, which eventually becomes his downfall. He regrets killing innocent people in his heart but never actually makes a formal apology and refuses to bow to Malcolm as king. Innocent people must suffer in the process. Banquo, Duncan and Macduff's family were killed but Macbeth's actions emotionally hurt those like Malcolm, Donaldbain and Macduff. The audience must feel sympathy for the character. I do feel some sort of sympathy for Macbeth. All of these things are true about Macbeth. Also the fact that he has an accomplice [Lady Macbeth] and that he becomes insane prevent him from being held fully accountable for his actions. However, because he has rational thoughts, knew the consequences of his actions, could have stopped Lady Macbeth at the beginning of the play and never makes an apology for his actions, I feel 'tragic hero', is the wrong phrase to use. To be a hero, you must have done something great and there was nothing noble about Macbeth's killings. In the demise of Macbeth, one feels sympathy at the waste of a potentially great man, so I would say that Macbeth is just a man who is condemned by his own flaws. ...read more.

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