Shakespeare's Macbeth is a Tragic Hero

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Macbeth is a Tragic Hero

"Shakespeare's tragic hero is a man of noble birth who falls from a position of honor and respect due to a flaw in his character. He freely chooses a course of action which ultimately causes him suffering and brings him to a fatal end."(Campbell 129) Macbeth is the epitome of a tragic hero who rises high then falls rock bottom to his death. Macbeth, once a noble man, follows the advice of witches, finds himself King, abuses his power and then gets killed. Macbeth goes through four stages until he reaches the end of his life; his original state, his tragic flaw, his downfall and finally his suffering. These four stages help to justify Shakespeare's tragic hero.

Macbeth's original state is noble yet frail and cowardly. In the beginning of Macbeth, we find Macbeth to be an anti-hero, one of no courage or strength in mind. One of whom can not make his own decisions without the aid of his wife, Lady Macbeth. However, Macbeth is likeable and people respect him for what he is. Although, a soldier on the outside, inside, we find Macbeth to be somewhat of a coward. When Macbeth encounters the witches, we find him to be quite afraid and unable to speak, while Banquo pleads for their answers. Macbeth takes the witches' advice as an invitation to kill Duncan in order to uphold the position of king. Macbeth is too afraid to do it until his wife, Lady Macbeth, who plays a more masculine role then Macbeth himself, coaxes him to kill Duncan. "We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail..." (1.7.69-71). This is the turning point, the place where Macbeth makes a wrong turn into darkness, one he can not turn back. After killing Duncan without being caught, he beco...

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...y and honor), to then committing sinful acts that catapult him into darkness. This darkness leads to his ultimate demise.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Campbell, Lily B. "Macbeth as Tragic Hero." Readings on Macbeth. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999. 126-35.

Gates, David. "Shakespeare: Dead White Male of the Year." Newsweek 30 Dec. 1996: 82+.

Kinney, Arthur F. ed. William Shakpespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Hall and Company, 1985.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Elements of Literature. Sixth ed. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1997.

Wadsworth, Frank W. "Shakespeare, William." World Book Online American Edition. Online Edition. Online. Netzero. 26 Mar 2002.

"William Shakespeare." BBC Homepage. Online. Available <>. 26 Mar. 2002.
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