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Macbeth: Tragic Hero or Tyrant?

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Introduction

Macbeth: Tragic Hero or Tyrant? 'Macbeth' was written by Shakespeare in 1606 and like other writers, reflected the world he knew. 'Macbeth' as a whole, is about ambition and the extreme steps taken by Macbeth to gain it. Therefore, Shakespeare focused a lot about 'Kingship' and 'Tyranny' in the play. In Shakespeare's times the issue of succession was a very complicated business. It was a time when really ambitious people existed; aiming for power and tyranny was often conducted at various levels of the society. There is no doubt that the people were familiar with the idea of 'Kingship' and 'Succession to the throne'. The play draws image from everyday experience, and from the customs and preoccupations of Jacobean England. This play was written by Shakespeare partly as to tribute King James, who became the king of England in 1603 after the death of Queen Elizabeth. Shakespeare's Macbeth is a very emotive play, providing the audience with powerful, moral messages. The play is short but has a complex plot and is an excellent parable. It is all about Macbeth, a nobleman, with some inborn flaws in his character and some influenced by other characters, begins a journey that starts with him as the Thane of Glamis and ends with him as the fallen King of Scotland. As he says: "blood will have blood". His fall at the end of the play is not unexpected. All his flaws and his fall at the end denote that he is nothing but a well-crafted tragic hero. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth hereafter can never sleep in peace. This is one of the symptoms of his fall at the end. The worst part of it is that it will be slow and painful. After the murder, Lady Macbeth asks him to wash his blood stained hands, but Macbeth on the other hand fears to have a blood stained soul, something that cannot be washed clean. The imagery of blood is used, showing the permanence of the act and also implies that Macbeth can get rid of it only by giving his blood - that is death. During wars Macbeth has killed a lot of people but that does not affect his conscience because he has killed them for a just reason - for the sake of his country, to protect his people from the enemies and to maintain peace in his homeland. In Duncan's case, it is a totally contrasting situation. He does it to satiate his desire, which is a selfish act, leading the entire country - his homeland, into a trap of bedlam. The people who suffer from this act obviously don't deserve it and thus the audiences are hinted that Macbeth will somehow have to pay for this wrong doing. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth says: 'This is a sorry sight' implying his guilty and sad attitude towards the murdered body, using alliteration. Macbeth reveals that before the murder he has been nothing but a puppet whose puppeteers are Lady Macbeth and the witches and now that the conduct is done, they have deserted him to experience the 'sorry sight'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth one day sees the Birnam Woods move but he is unaware that it is the English army with Macduff. The army takes over the castle and Macbeth does not flee. Instead he relies on the prophecy that 'no man of woman born' can kill him. He soon comes face to face with Macduff. He boasts in a satisfied way about what the prophecies have said. Macduff reveals his caesarean birth. Macbeth is immediately drained out of courage - a fallen hero. Everything seems numb to him. He refuses to believe this fact. He realises how he has been misled by 'half truth' as the truth. He finds himself betrayed and defeated. He is then given a choice - either captivity or death. Macbeth chooses death. We can see that there is a sudden change in Macbeth. He tries to be what he was before - brave, noble and free. He uses his last bit of bravery and strength to fight a losing battle with Macduff. The audience feels sorry for Macbeth. Macbeth has suffered at his own hands. Macbeth in the end died nobly ... more nobly than he lived. Macbeth here is a perfect example of a tragic hero as he is good at the start; has turned unnaturally ambitious due to the prophecies; loses control over his actions and finally has a fall. Macbeth comes to know about his faults at the end when there is no time; his death is then inevitable. All these sum up to show that he is nothing but a tragic hero. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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