Macbeth. Progression of a Tragic Hero

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Kevin Durran
Ms. Bural
ENG3U1-02
November 27, 2011
Macbeth, the Progression of a Tragic Hero
“In tragedy people are tested by great suffering and must face decisions of ultimate consequence. Some meet the challenge with deeds of despicable cruelty, while others demonstrate their ability to confront and surpass adversity, winning our admiration and proving the greatness of human potential” (Aristotle). The character Macbeth is an archetypal paragon in Shakespearean literature; he truly embodies the title of the tragic hero. The aspects that lead to the Protagonist’s downfall are countless; three major factors contribute to his progression to the tragic hero. The first being the prophecies from the witches, Lady Macbeth’s malicious influence that disoriented his counsel and lastly his ambition to achieve greatness by becoming King. Curiosity and tragedy have gone hand in hand throughout history; the aphorism “Curiosity killed the cat” can be personified through Macbeth’s demise as his curiosity is remedied by the witch’s prophecies. The witch’s vague foretelling only lead Macbeth to curiosity, by stating the two titles he does not have “All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” (I, III, 49-50) inciting Macbeth’s confusion to be solved from the counsel of his wife. While each prophecy is said his level of curiosity increases. Another example of Macbeth’s curiosity is shown through his hallucinations as he goes forth with the murder of Duncan, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee… a dagger of the mind, a false creation… Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear” (2, I, 41-42, 46, 65). The quote projects .Macbeth tends to format his ideal future by using false prophecies which in turn rid him of his worries and concerns for these prophecies prophesised that he will stay king. To assuage Macbeth’s curiosity he wanted the prophecies to make him what he wanted to hear. The definition of Emasculation is to make a man less of a man through verbal influence; such examples of this are shown from the character Lady Macbeth, who contributes to Macbeth’s downfall. Lady Macbeth has shown countless times why she is such a large factor to Macbeth’s demise; she is portrayed as a manipulative prick. By ultimately forcing Macbeth to go along and murder Duncan she introduces him to the beginning of his tragedy, because of her planning out the murder she ultimately distorts his judgement. After the shaky Macbeth assassinated his dear king, the audience will notice a change in character as regret as a noble Macbeth turns into a depressed and confused King. Duncan’s murder was just the beginning, to maintain his authority and reign over Scotland he continued to kill because murder at the time seemed to ensure his title. Lady Macbeth is considered a large factor in the progression of Macbeth an honourable nobleman to the tragic hero; she relayed the concept of murder to him initiating his fulfillment of his deep dark desires. Macbeth’s ambition is minor factor in his progression towards him being the tragic hero. His ambition alone was never such a striving force, Lady Macbeth’s emasculation magnified/provoked thoughts of Duncan’s murder. His ambition was never so great that he would actually assassinate his king but the medleys of the prophecies which added to his level of curiosity awakened his dormant aspirations. The emasculation he received from his wife added to his ambitions, as almost he was challenged to murder the king, this shows a great example of his fall from loyalty to the tragic hero. With these new factors adding to his ambition, greed, lust, violence combines to a malicious power hungry tyrant. "Tragedy occurs when noble or great persons are led, through pride or a secret flaw in their personalities, to suffering that changes their fortune. The tragic hero must begin in a high position and end in...
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