Aristotle defined a tragic character is a man who “falls into misfortune through some flaw." (Grube, 5) Shakespeare's tragic hero is a man who falls from his position of honor and respect due to a flaw in character and ultimately arrives at a fatal end. (Nostbakken, 2) Macbeth is an epitome of a tragic hero. He had a good nature, but was driven by greed and a quest for power. Macbeth had been a military hero, loved and praised by the people, but his blind ambition resulted in his destruction, and all his past greatness and happiness were lost. This essay will explore Macbeth’s path toward destruction and show how he became the epitome of a tragic hero.
Macbeth was obviously a patriot and the protector of the king at the beginning of the play. (Slethaug, 13) We imagine him to be a good warrior with extraordinary prowess and loyalty. He defeated the insurgent troops and was highly trusted. As Duncan said, "He is a gentleman on whom I built An absolute trust". (I.iv.14-15) Even the King had great love in this real hero.
But his was controlled under the supernatural force when he met the witches of prophecy, contributing to the degeneration of this character. When the witches foretold Macbeth that he was to be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glasmis and King hereafter, Macbeth's ambition to the kingship had been aroused. He said, " My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical¡K"(I.iii.140) shows that he started imagining to get the throne by evil means for the fulfillment of the promised kingship. The imperfect speakers of misleading prophecies brainwashed him, striving up his deep ambition and leading him to step closer to the edge of dismal abyss. And later they also g...
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...ed himself, to put all his possessed greatness and happiness in ruin, and ended himself in ultimate hate and demise.
Brooke, Nicholas, ed. Macbeth. Oxford: The Oxford University Press. 1990.
Brown, John Russell. Shakespeare Macbeth. Southampton: The Camelot Press. 1965.
Coursen, H.R. Macbeth-A Guide to the Play. London: Greenwood Press.1997.
Elloway, David. Macbeth By William Shakespeare (Macmillan master guides). Macmillan Education Limited. 1985.
Grube, G.M.A, ed. Aristotle "The Poetics", Poetry and Style. Indianapolis: Bobbs Merril. 1958.
Nostbakken, Faith. Understanding Macbeth. USA: Greenwood Press. 1997.
Slethaug, Gordon. "Lecture Notes" for ENGL1007. Hong Kong: The University of Chicago. November 2000.
Wain, John. Shakespeare Macbeth. Hong Kong: The Macmillan Press Ltd. 1968.
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