Aristotle defined a tragic hero as "a [great] man who is neither a paragon of virtue and justice nor undergoes the change to misfortune through any real badness or wickedness but because of some flaw”. Shakespeare’s Macbeth meets his demise from his flaw of ambition and he was a great man of nobility in the beginning showing that he was a tragic hero. Even though Macbeth does terrible crimes before his death, Macbeth is not a villain as he was manipulated and pushed to inhuman actions. The three main features that lead him to the person he becomes are the prophecies from the Witches, his relationship with Lady Macbeth and his fatal flaw; his ambition.
At first, Macbeth was a heroic soldier, honorable and admired and respected. Macbeth was also in good favor with King Duncan as seen here, “O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!” (Macbeth Act 1, Scene 2). Macbeth did not have double agenda to betray the King at first. It is not until he met the Witches and received the three prophecies that he began to change in behavior. The Witches tantalize Macbeth with the titles of “Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland” (Macbeth Act 1, Scene 3) in hopes that Macbeth would pursue the prophecies. He becomes curious and wonders what it would take to kill the King and make the prophecies come true. Macbeth quickly disregards the idea and he believes that these ideas will go away in time. This is evidence that his original belief system did not accept regicide or wrongful gaining of power. His reaction to the thought of murdering Duncan in cold blood startled him and made his hair rise and blood race in fear as seen in this monologue,
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion,
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,
And make my sea...
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...hen his ambition was led in the wrong direction, he found himself unable to stop for fear of the consequences. Macbeth is an example of how people react when they cross the line of what’s thought of as right and wrong and everyone “must be careful of our inner Macbeths”. (Mrs. Horne)
"Aristotle & the Elements of Tragedy." Aristotle's Tragic Terms. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
Foakes, R. A. “Images of Death: Ambition in Macbeth.” Ed. John Russell Brown. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.
Flores, Stephan. P. “I Dare Do All That May Become a Man-Passion, Politics and Gender in Macbeth.” Essays for Shakespeareience-A Shakespeare Festival. University of Idaho, 1993. Web.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Ken Roy. 2nd ed. Toronto: Nelson Education, 2003. Print. Harcourt Shakespeare Ser.
Horne, Christine. Macbeth Test Notes. Halifax, 2014. Print.
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