• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Macbeth: Tragic Hero or Villain?

Extracts from this document...


Macbeth: Tragic Hero or Villain? He murdered his friends, he committed treason, he consulted witches and saw ghosts, but is Macbeth really a villain, or is he a tragic hero who is lead astray by powerful forces of nature? The Shakespearean tragedy 'Macbeth' is all about a heroic thane who becomes corrupted in his chase for power. At the start of the book he valiantly wins a battle at the head of his army, by the end of the book he is cowering in his castle as vengeful countrymen he has betrayed surround it. This essay will show that Macbeth's ambition will lead him to to gradually become more and more evil until he meets his downfall. Ironically, the play opens with King Duncan of Scotland welcoming back Macbeth from a battle, which Scotland would have lost if it had not been for Macbeth. Little does he know the next person Macbeth will kill will be himself. The king has tears of joy in his eyes as he praises Macbeth and Banquo: "For brave Macbeth - well he deserved that name" And: "They smack of honour both" Duncan respects Macbeth and shows that, at the start of the play at least, Macbeth is good and not evil. ...read more.


Macbeth is starting to become an evil character rather than a good character. As yet he is not fully evil, but he comes ever closer to committing the worst crime possible in his era - treason. But Macbeth is not entirely sure he has to murder Macbeth to become king: "If chance will have me king, why Chance may crown me Without my stir." Macbeth's instant trust of the witches is surely not typical of a hero or good man. Even early on Macbeth's evil character is evident in all his actions and thoughts. Macbeth confides in his wife his thoughts and feelings about the potential murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth immediately decides Duncan must go if Macbeth is to become king and goes about setting up his murder. It is obvious that the real power in the household lies with Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth doesn't hesitate long before carrying out her bidding even though he is not sure about the idea himself. King Duncan comes to stay at Macbeth's castle, irony is present again; Duncan believes the castle to be safe and friendly: "This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses." Later on the same night Macbeth is creeping along the corridor on the way to murder Duncan. ...read more.


Macbeth is becoming more evil and is getting used to killing. This attempted murder ultimately leads to his downfall however, Macduff suspects Macbeth and worrying, he wastes no time in fleeing to England. There he learns that his family were all killed by Macbeth, and raises an army to fight and kill Macbeth. Macbeth is feeling safe however: the witches told him that no man born of natural birth shall harm him, and that he will not be killed until the forests of Birnam move. He locks himself in his castle and awaits an attack that he feels sure he can win. Macduff plans his attack well, telling his army to cut down branches from a nearby forest to use as camouflage. The army approaches the castle, the forests of Birnam have moved. Macbeth is fooled by the strategy and his castle is taken by surprise. The castle is quickly defeated and Macduff enters to fight Macbeth in hand-to-hand combat. Macbeth's confidence in the witches lasts until the very last minute of the battle, when Macduff reveals that he was born by caesarean section. Macbeth's trust in witches, coupled with his overwhelming will to kill, has led to his downfall. How anyone can think someone who has killed his monarch, killed his best friend and killed innocent people to be any type of hero at all is beyond me. Macbeth is most certainly a villain, not a tragic hero. ...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. How and why does Macbeth change from hero to villain?

    On arrival of Macbeth his first words are 'So fair and foul a day I have not seen' 1.3.38 which echoes the witches' incantation showing that Macbeth and the supernatural are intrinsically linked. This implies that appearances can be deceiving.

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

    When Macduff comes with news of the murder, it profoundly affects Macbeth. Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had liv'd a blessed time; for, from this instant, There's nothing serious in mortality, All is but toys; renown and grace is dead, The wine of life is

  1. Macbeth: Hero or Villain?

    Macbeth and Banquo then leave to see the king. King Duncan again shows his gratitude and love by greeting Macbeth highly and inviting himself to Macbeth's castle. But the main event, which set off Macbeth is when the heir to the throne is announced; Malcolm.

  2. Macbeth - Victim or Villain?

    This section of the play was very significant because in this section Macbeth has reduced in worth as a character because of one woman who was capable manipulating him into killing someone. Now Macbeth has killed the king, he starts to become paranoid that he will loose the throne because

  1. Macbeth is more a victim than a villain. He is a tragic hero. Show ...

    Macbeth's ambition is the driving force of his life. Macbeth's greatest weakness is his ambition, he says this specifically when he is attempting to resist the murder of Duncan, `I have no spur... but only/vaulting ambition.' It is his ambition, which leads Macbeth to murder, treason, hypocrisy, corruption and deepest evil.

  2. Macbeth: Is he a hero or a villain?

    Killing the King is not loyal at all. Macbeth is being very good to the King by what he is saying. This illustrates that he is trying to give the impression to the people around him that he has nothing against the King and would not kill him.

  1. Is Macbeth a hero or a villain?

    Macbeth killed Macduffs wife and child for no reason. It got easier for Macbeth to do the murders because he got used to it. Macbeth shows a lot of bravery in the battle field against Macduff. Macbeth knows he is going to die but still show's a lot of bravery and determination.

  2. Macbeth as a Tragic Hero

    Is she alloy by exploiting his love for her when she makes his consent to murder a test of his love? Is she being cynical when she inverts logic and reality in asking him if he is afraid to be what he wants to be and in suggesting that to be a true man he must take what he wants?

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