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

To what extent can Macbeth be considered a tragic hero?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"To what extent can Macbeth be considered a tragic hero?" You should show how Shakespeare uses language and plot to balance the audience's reaction. Macbeth's story is essentially a tragedy: the audience sees an honourable and respected man fall from his high position in Scottish society to the depths of murder, betrayal and deceit when gripped by his so-called "fatal flaw" of ambition. Taken at face value, this seems to be a very plausible argument for the tragic nature of Macbeth. However, if Macbeth's character is examined throughout the play, it can be seen that he is missing some of the vital characteristics of the tragic hero. Macbeth's ambition is not entirely responsible for his downfall. He is described as "brave Macbeth", a "valiant cousin" and a "worthy gentleman!" and it is difficult to believe that this strong, honourable man would be swayed solely by the predictions of some mad women who even Banquo suggests are the product of having "eaten on the insane root." ...read more.

Middle

However, at the same time the audience know that Macbeth ignored his conscience, because they saw it in his soliloquies, and they therefore condemn him more for knowing that he was doing wrong, but continuing nevertheless. If Macbeth had not shown his conscience, then the murder still would have remained wrong and the audience still would have condemned it. However, with little moral education and by not recognising the evil of his actions, he would have been easier to forgive because the blame could have been attributed wholly to the evil of the witches and the influence of his wife. Despite this, he does have a conscience and shows more and more disregard for human life during the course of the play. It is tragic when people cannot see what they are doing is wrong, but Macbeth flatly refuses to even look, and knowing the truth says "Stars hide your fires,/Let not light see my black and deep desires" in some effort to expel the murderous thoughts from his mind. ...read more.

Conclusion

the suffering then because he knew inside himself what he was doing was wrong, but refused to think any more about it and let the evil consume him. The audience, who may pity Macbeth because of his struggle with right and wrong, only really sympathise with him because they can feel in themselves that same struggle. They do not sympathise with him because of his seemingly "good" traits of honour and bravery, because they would feel insecure if such a good man were to be overrun so rapidly by evil. Instead of coming to terms with the evil that resides within them, the audience can externalise it, vindicating themselves in the process and balancing the evil on stage with the good that they feel within themselves after demonising the witches and attributing all the evil to them. Most importantly, Macbeth does have the classic fatal flaw, but it is tenuously linked to his downfall by the murder of Duncan, which was arguably carried out under some duress. To be classically tragic, it should be the direct cause, and not the catalyst for his demise. ...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.

    Macbeth is a wreck! Malcolm and Donalbain flee to England and Ireland making them appear guilty. Macbeth inherits the throne. In Act 2, scene 4, Ross enters accompanied by an old man. The scene that follows is very important when it comes to creating mood and atmosphere.

  2. To what extent is Macbeth an archetypal tragic hero?

    but only Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself" Macbeth finds that he has no reason to kill King Duncan except to feed his ambition. This emphasises the tragic flaw Macbeth has, and shows his similarity to a typical tragic hero. In the next Act, Macbeth decides that he will kill the king at the stroke of the bell.

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

    There are people like Macbeth in society. They can bring us to our knees and destroy the surprisingly fragile roots of order and civilisation. There have been many examples of "Macbeths" in years gone by, and in the twentieth century we have had a fair share of fanatically ambitious individuals.

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

    This shows us that Macbeth may be a victim because Lady Macbeth is targeting his soft points. The imagery of darkness in this scene recalls Macbeth's earlier invocation of darkness. The imagery of blood runs through the play. Here blood is seen as a natural function of the human body.

  1. How can blame be apportioned in “Macbeth”?

    Another thing that bothers him is that he has the demeanor of a king and that the witches promised Banquo a lineage of kings while they only promised him to be king. He refuses to accept that he turned evil just for Banquo's lineage to be kings and so decides to challenge Fate by killing Banquo and his descendants.

  2. Do you think Eddie Carbone is a tragic hero?

    He has the inability to face up to the truth, to the reality of his feelings about Cathrine. 'Every man's got someboby that he loves, heh? But sometimes ... there's too much ... and it goes where it mustn't.' Eddie's stage directions emphasise his refusal to face facts, that he has strong feelings for Catherine.

  1. Macbeth- Tyrant or tragic hero? Discuss

    'When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man' In Act I Scene VII, Lady Macbeth speaks this when Macbeth doubts his ability to Kill Duncan.

  2. The extent to which the supernatural contributes to Macbeth’s tragedy

    In Act One Scene Three the audience also learn how the witches will affect Macbeth's life as they tell the story of another man (a sea captain) who died due to them. When the witches' say who is destined to be King there is a crossover between the supernatural's fault and Macbeth.

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