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Macbeth: The Tragic Hero

The celebrated play, “Macbeth” written by William Shakespeare, chronicles the events of the protagonist by the same name. His rise, his transformation, and ultimately his demise. Although some may argue Macbeth is a monster due to his actions, it is his human nature that triggers his grievous destiny. A classical hero is an individual who is of noble stature, who has a tragic flaw that can lead to many things including Hamartia, Peripeteia and pathos. Macbeth represents the classical definition of the term, “tragic hero.” His tragic flaw leads to a reversal of fortune, despite his treacherous behaviour, the audience exudes sympathy for Macbeth and, his tragic flaw (his ambition) pilots his downfall.
Firstly, Macbeth experiences a reversal of fortune as a result of his tragic flaw, indicating the presence of Peripeteia and that Macbeth is doomed. “Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou may’st revenge” (Act3, Scene3, Lines17-18), Banquo cries to Fleance, his only son, before he is slain by the murderers and Fleance escapes. Prior to Act 3 everything has gone as planned for Macbeth, the turning point or reversal of fortune is Fleance’ escape since it is his first failure. Macbeth fears Banquo will have more sons (strengthen his bloodline), continue to raise suspicion and he will lose his kingship to Banquo’s bloodline as the witches foretold, therefore, he orders their murder. His ambitious nature and fear of losing power provoke the decision made to kill them. The audience is again reminded of the witch’s prophecy, Fleance does not die therefore the possibility of him acquiring the throne in the future is still a possibility. Despite his greatest efforts, Macbeth’s ambition does not trump destiny.
Secondly, the audience expresse...

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...eal to him is his future rank. Despite murder being unfathomable to him, he is willing to kill Duncan if it means he can claim his fate. Macbeth did nothing to obtain Cawdor, however he chooses to accelerate his means of obtaining the throne by committing murder. His avidity towards gaining power leads to his tragic death.

In conclusion, Macbeth has committed treasonous and despicable crimes to both his friend, Banquo and the King of Scotland in order to obtain rank. He may be referred to as a monster, however he is the classical definition of a tragic hero. His reversal of his fortune foreshadows his doom, despite his treacherous behaviour and disloyalty, the audience experiences sympathy for Macbeth and his ambitious nature evokes his tragic, untimely death. Shakespeare effectively uses Macbeth to model the dangers of unchecked ambition and its consequences.

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