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Macbeth

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Macbeth

The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. Some of the factors that justify this title to Macbeth are his greatness and outstanding potential, both as a warrior and a nobleman, his very powerful sense of ambition, and the outweighing of this flaw over his exceptional goodness.

One of the many reasons that Macbeth is categorized as a tragic hero is his courage and success as a war hero. This is evident when, in the beginning of the play, the Captain narrates Macbeth’s braveries to Duncan, and the king himself refers to Macbeth as “noble Macbeth”. Right from the beginning of the play, Shakespeare clearly defines Macbeth as a well-respected war hero. The Captain talks about how Macbeth killed everybody in his path to get to Macdonwald and then “unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops” before finally spearing the head of his enemy. Furthermore, King Duncan himself refers to the protagonist as “noble Macbeth”, as he tells his noblemen, “What he (the Thane of Cawdor) hath lost, noble Macbeth had won” Therefore, the above mentioned instances convince the reader that Macbeth is indeed heroic, popular and courageous.

Another reason leading to Macbeth’s tragic ending is his overpowering sense of ambition. This is discussed by his wife, Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth himself.After reading Macbeth’s letter, his wife voices concerns for him, one of which includes his ambition. She says that her husband has the ambition to be anything he wants, but not the heart to do what he has to do to get there. Moreover, Macbeth also characterizes himself as having a "vaulting ambition" which takes control of him and consumes his thoughts. Thus, Macbeth’s tragic flaw eventually leads to his self-destruction Yet another example of Macbeth’s tragic heroism is his flaw overtaking his capability to be naturally good. The murders of Duncan, Banquo and Macduff’s family are proof enough to show that Macbeth’s inner goodness and humanity have been destroyed and replaced by his ambition. When Duncan names Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland, Macbeth decides on the murder of the king. This involves him having to overcome hesitations, but aided by the persuasion of his wife, he undertakes this task. Additionally, Macbeth hires murderers to kill Banquo and his son, due to the witch’s prediction of Fleance becoming king. Finally, the slaughter of Macduff’s household by the same murderers, to ensure he would reach his ambition without obstacles, is a final seal to prove that Macbeth’s sense of ambition drives him to near-insanity.
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