Macbeth as a Tragic Hero in Willian Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Macbeth as a Tragic Hero in Willian Shakespeare's Macbeth Two and a half thousand years ago, Aristotle defined a tragedy as 'an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude.' Two thousand years later, Shakespeare reincarnated this and other classical principles in the form of his four great tragedies; Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. Aristotle laid down some elements which he and other classical theorists seemed to think necessary in a tragedy. In 'Macbeth' some of these elements have been used, some have been reworked and some have been totally disregarded. These 'rules' which Shakespeare didn't always think appropriate or indeed practical to use in his more contemporary tragedies, also seem to have been lost from the common definition of a tragedy when it is applied to anything other than ancient dramatic works. For example, tragedies today no longer have to be contained in a short space of time or in one location. The common definition of a tragedy now is a play that ends with the death of the central character, the hero; a play that considers, discusses and dramatises universal and sometimes philosophical themes, and a play that signals to the audience that the final outcome, always the downfall and destruction of the hero, is inevitable. 'Macbeth' fulfils all of these things; the central character, Macbeth, is slain at the end; the play deals with many serious themes such as ambition, weakness, greed and social advancement. You are always conscious of the fact that in the end Macbeth will be killed; good will triumph over evil, honour over ignominy. I think we realise that Macbeth's dea... ... middle of paper ... ...itted or the self-interested pain he has caused. Macbeth does say to Macduff 'But get thee back, my soul is too much charged With blood of thine already', this could be taken that Macbeth doesn't want to commit any more murders, and that maybe he regrets killing Lady Macduff and her children. But I believe that Macbeth doesn't want to fight with Macduff because he was told to 'beware Macduff', and that this is an excuse. I think Macbeth maybe also wanted to reinforce and perhaps gloat over the fact that he had killed Macduff's family while he was in England. So while in a classical sense Macbeth fulfils the criteria for a tragic hero, in my eyes he is neither heroic nor tragic; only selfish, feeble and insatiable. But then I am judging him by the standards of today, and not in the context in which he was written.

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