Question: Macbeth fails as a play because we are unable to empathise with the protagonist. Introduction:
* Firstly, we must define Macbeth as the ‘tragic hero’ of the play. It is the protagonist in a tragedy who possesses a tragic flaw eventually leading to their downfall. Aristotle’s view of the effect of tragedy was to arouse empathy for the ‘tragic hero’ and then to purge it from the audience, at the end an audience can be drained of all emotion. Macbeth parallels all of the characteristics of a ‘tragic hero’ because he is a very important character in the play, his persona is given a ‘tragic flaw’ i.e. Macbeth’s ambition and he is a respected noble who’s error in judgement leads to his death. * If the audience did not feel some empathy for Macbeth the play would not succeed as a tragedy, because a tragedy depends upon that engagement of the audience with the hero. He is so courageous at the beginning, yet becomes so fearful at the end. The composer, Shakespeare, manipulates our feelings for Macbeth by depicting women as part of the source of his downfall: the witches on the one hand and his wife on the other. Macbeth says to Lady Macbeth when she presses and presses him to commit the murder of Duncan,
"I dare do all that may become a man. / Who dares do more is none" in an attempt to silence his wife (1.7.51-52), but he cannot silence her and as a result loses the manhood he desperately wants to preserve. In these moments the responders’ negative feelings transfer to Lady Macbeth, giving Macbeth empathy. * By giving Macbeth him a desirable trait/quality the composer creates empathy or Macbeth. Philosophers believed that the audience must feel empathy for the tragic hero otherwise it would not succeed as a good tragedy because the audience is unable to empathise with the protagonist. Macbeth’s courage reappears just before his death when he says: “I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hacked. / Give me my armour.” (5.3.32-33)....
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