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

    again to spur Macbeth on and taunt him with suggestions that he is weak and unmanly. She says, 'You do unbend your noble strength to think / So brainsickly of things' and calls him 'infirm of purpose'. It is vital that one of them remains in control and even though she is anxious herself, it is Lady Macbeth.

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

    When Macduff encounters Macbeth the small but still present moral consciousness of Macbeth is shown through his refusal to fight Macduff because his is already too guilty with the blood of Macduff's family. Macbeth is sure he will kill Macduff too because he is born of a woman.

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

    One that naturally feeds mans capacity for compassion and repentance. These are things, which Lady Macbeth wishes stopped. In scene six Duncan arrives at Macbeth's castle, but Lady Macbeth only greets him. Once more the theme of reality versus appearance is lightly alluded to.

  1. Macbeth as a Tragic Hero

    Does this show her gentleness and compassion towards him? Or does she feel that further argument would be useless? The Sleep-Walking Scene - We do not meet her again until this scene. She has now been reduced to a poor,mad creature, broken by events.

  2. MacBeth - Tragic Hero

    his eternal jewel, the soul, into the possession of those demonic forces which are the enemy of mankind. He recognizes that the acts of conscience which torture him are really expressions of that outraged natural law, which inevitably reduced him as individual to the essentially human.

  1. Macbeth - Hero to butcher

    A while after Macbeth has certain misgivings about the affair. In his mind he argues out the advantages and disadvantages. The good side of him says that 'he's here in double trust' 'I am his kinsman and subject', 'as his host who should against his murderers shut the door, not bear the knife myself.'

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

    "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!" The second witch refers to Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor. "All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!" The third witch refers to Macbeth as the future king of Scotland. "All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!"

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