Shakespeare's Macbeth as a Tragic Hero

1762 Words8 Pages
Macbeth as a Tragic Hero For Macbeth to be considered a “Tragic Hero”, he must have some potential nobility, some good qualities that make his downfall terrifying. He must be examined as a human being with human weaknesses. Is he one who, as Lady Macbeth says, Act I, Sc. v, "is too full of the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way" or is he the "butcher" that Malcolm considers him to be in the final scene of the play? Or is he a victim of his ambition or of moral weaknesses or of his limited concept of manliness, or even of a combination of circumstances that cause him to fall? From the opening scene Macbeth is chosen as a target for temptation; the witches, as agents of evil plan their trap; so the stage is set for his downfall. One good quality of Macbeth is his bravery. We learn of his physical prowess and bravery on the battlefield - "brave Macbeth", "valour's minion", "valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!", he is an eagle, a lion, "Bellona's bridegroom". These are the outward signs as seen by the Captain, Duncan and Ross, Act I, Sc.ii. Unfortunately, Macbeth is prone to temptation. In the following scene we observe his interest in the Witches' predictions. He is tempted - "Your children shall be Kings" ; but temptation is not guilt. When Ross tells him he has been made Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth asks, "why do you dress me in borrowed robes?" Does this suggest that, at this stage, he wants no honors that are not rightfully his? * A Materialist - In this soliloquy (aside) in Act I,Sc. iii we see how the fulfillment of the first prediction is working on him. Does he show himself to be a materialist here, looking for success and closing his eyes to the fact that achievement and goodness do not necessarily go together? Is this what Lady Macbeth sees in him when she says in Act I, Sc. v, "wouldst not play false And yet wouldst wrongly win?" * Virtuous or Hypocrite - He is aware of his duties as a subject "...and our duties Are to your throne and state children and servants, Which do but what they should, by doing every thing Safe toward your love and honor." Is this an inclination of his virtue, or is it hypocrisy? * Conscience?
Open Document