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To what extent is Macbeth an archetypal tragic hero?

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To what extent is Macbeth an archetypal tragic hero? In this essay I am going to identify the tragic pattern, and how it corresponds to the story of Macbeth. But what is a tragic hero? The definition of a tragic hero was originally composed by Aristotle. A tragic hero is a person of nobility, who is admired by the public, yet has a flaw which will eventually lead to their downfall. However in Macbeth, pride is not the cause for misfortune. In this case, the flaw is ambition. This flaw leads Macbeth to commit terrible felonies in order to climb his way up the social ladder to reach the ultimate position - King of Scotland. It is typical of a tragic hero to commit crimes to achieve his goals. However, Macbeth was greatly influenced by external factors which, I believe, helped to lead him to the grave. This is not as typical of a tragic hero. This is the final stage of the tragic pattern, and is the one I believe to be of the most importance. The stages of the tragic pattern are: a man of nobility with a flaw in his character; there is a time intrusion and a sense of urgency; there are some kind of misreadings and rationalizations; there is murder of enemies and allies; the tragic hero should become isolated; the opposition become mobilized; the tragic hero recognizes the flaw when it is already too late; the tragic hero has one last brave attempt ...read more.


The bell invites me." It is as though Macbeth misreads the bell, and thinks that when the bell rings, his only option is to go through with the murder. This shows how Macbeth's mind is set on this one course of action, which he has almost been spoonfed by his wife. This, again, shows the consequences of influence from external factors. Macbeth returns to Lady Macbeth after the murder of Duncan. "I have done the deed." This shows the murder of an enemy, which is a vital part of the tragic pattern. The final happening of Act 2 is that we see that Macbeth greatly regrets the murder of King Duncan. "Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!" This shows that Macbeth can still feel regret and has a conscience at this part of the play. This is typical of a tragic hero, as it is usual that the conscious decreases as time passes and more incidents occur. Also, he almost totally depends on his wife to help him make decisions, and to do almost everything for him. His character does, however, change as the play progresses. Here, Macbeth is feeling remorse for his actions. This shows that he is still a good person inside, and that he does have some aspects of a tragic hero at this point, but some are yet to develop. It shows that Macbeth still has compassion, yet as the play progresses this compassion is replaced with ruthlessness and brutality. ...read more.


However, I also feel that Macbeth was greatly influenced by external factors, such as Lady Macbeth and the Weird Sisters. For instance, the Weird Sisters are the ones who tell of the prophecies in the first place, so lead Macbeth to believe that maybe he could be king. I believe they are responsible for planting this idea into his head, and without their input, I don't believe Macbeth would have seriously thought about becoming King of Scotland. Also, Lady Macbeth influenced Macbeth to commit the murder, as I feel that Macbeth's conscience would have gotten the better of him before he committed the crime, and that the end of the play would not have turned out the same. Despite these external factors influencing Macbeth, i still believe he is a typical tragic hero. In conclusion, I believe almost everything that happens to Macbeth in the play fits into the tragic pattern: Macbeth's nobility; flaw in his character; errors in judgement and attempt at an honourable death are all signs of this. Despite his flaws, I do not feel that Macbeth deserved the ending which he received. I feel that external factors were a great influence on his life, and without these influences I do not believe that Macbeth would have made the mistakes he did, and ultimately would not have died in such a bloodthirsty manner. However, the tragic pattern is what defines a tragic hero, therefore I believe Macbeth to be an archetypal tragic hero. ?? ?? ?? ?? Dehenna Davison - 11Y ...read more.

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