Macbeth - Noble Soldier to Bloody Tyrant Essay

Macbeth - Noble Soldier to Bloody Tyrant Essay

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Macbeth - Noble Soldier to Bloody Tyrant


  The purpose of tragedy is to arouse in the audience emotions of fear or pity, and to produce a catharsis-a relieving cleansing-of these emotions. Macbeth is the most horrific of Shakespeare's tragedies because the protagonist commits such bloodthirsty acts. Apart from on the battlefield, however, this brutality is not evident when we first meet the hero.  General Macbeth is a man of military and political importance, the heroic Thane of Glamis and potential heir to the throne of Scotland.  By the end of the play he is an entirely different person than he was in the beginning. In the beginning he is a heroic, decent, and noble soldier, but by the end of the play he is a bloody tyrant.

 

A key ingredient in such a genre is the tragic flaw, an idea that goes back to an influential work of literary criticism called Poetics, by Aristotle.  Aristotle said that the tragic hero should be someone of rank or importance with a tragic flaw, who suffers a "reversal of intention" that eventually leads to his or her death.    Aristotle also said that in the process, the tragic hero should experience recognition of this failure and that by the end of the work our moral sense should be satisfied that right or justice has prevailed.    The tragic flaw is some weakness in character that is responsible for action or inaction on the part of the tragic hero and leads to the reversal of the hero's original intention.  Therefore, the reversal of intention is the turning point in the tragic hero's life when he or she experiences something that causes the tide to turn and previous success to turn to failure.  [The fourth soliloquy prepares us for the reversal, and the climactic...


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...ere is room for debate about his courage and nobility, and whether or not we feel any pity or compassion for him. Our feelings at the end constitute the expected catharsis.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Greenblatt, Stephen. "Introduction to Macbeth." The Norton Shakespeare. New York: Norton, 1997. 2555-63.

Hawkins, Michael. "History, politics, and Macbeth." Focus on Macbeth. Ed. John Russell Brown. London: Routledge, 1982. 155-88.

Kermode, Frank. "Introduction to Macbeth." The Riverside Shakespeare. Boston: Houghton, 1974. 1307-11.

Shakespeare, William.  Tragedy of Macbeth . Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul   Warstine. New York: Washington Press, 1992.   

     

Notes:

1 Roman Polanski changes the ending in his film, when he has Donalbain visit the witches to determine his own fate as the brother of the new King Malcolm.

 

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