Character Flaws

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The Chinese saying “an evil action has its recompense” precisely describes the heroes in Shakespeare’s tragic plays. In these movingly charged plots, the characters often possess great power and appear invincible when, due to inherent character flaws, fall from grace and inevitably pay dearly with their own life. After reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it is abundantly clear that at least three of its character invite the catastrophes that they ultimately experience. In this play, Macbeth is an archetypal character who meets the definition of Aristotelian tragic hero. Lady Macbeth also fulfills the characteristics of the type as she faces the dire consequences of her own mistakes. To a certain extent, Duncan’s terrible fate is an outcome of his faulty judgement. This essay is going to discuss each character’s flaws. Macbeth is one of the characters who bring destruction to himself. There are two factors which contribute significantly to Macbeth’s tragedy. One of them is that he has no self-confidence. After the witches’ prophecies become true, Macbeth begins to believe in and rely on their words rather than trusting his own instinct. He interprets the hidden messages in the predictions for his own benefit, and starts to eliminate his perceived enemies. In this advice, “Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth: beware of Macduff, / Beware the Thane of Fife.” (IV, I, 70-71), the apparition merely tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff. However, he misunderstands as he needs to kill Macduff. This suggests that Macbeth feels insecure even though there are no threats endangering his life. Lack of real courage is the other factor which leads to Macbeth’s doom. Although Macbeth shows physical bravery, fighting wars and earning the respect from his soldiers “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name –” (I, II, 16) and Duncan who says “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman” (I, II, 24), his mental strength is relatively weak. For instance, after he murders Duncan and becomes...
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