Macbeth a Tragic Hero?

Topics: Macbeth, Kill, Duncan I of Scotland Pages: 3 (874 words) Published: March 10, 2013
Macbeth a tragic hero?

Macbeth is the main character in Shakespeare's play ‘Macbeth’. The play is a tragedy, therefore, the question arises; is Macbeth a tragic hero? Macbeth’s not only guilty of regicide, he also kills his best friend, an innocent family, and anybody else who he feels is a danger to his thrown. If we were to leave it at that, we could even name him a villain. However a tragic hero does not necessarily have to accomplish any good deeds, like the typical person we would call a hero today. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle had a couple of characteristics that he believed made a tragic hero, and Macbeth meets his criteria.

Firstly, according to Aristotle, a tragic hero is of high social statues and nobility. Someone liked by other people and looked up to. Macbeth is exactly that. Even though Macbeth at the end of the play is described a murdering “Butcher”, at the beginning of the play he is introduced as being very admirable. He is a brave warrior and thane of Glamis who lives in a castle with his wife. He is looked up to by his fellow soldiers in the army and praised for his great victory in battle. King Duncan, who Macbeth later kills, also likes and trusts Macbeth. He is “brave Macbeth”, “Valour’s minion”, “Bellona’s bridegroom”. Others praise him constantly: "But all's too weak, For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name."

Secondly, according to Aristotle, a tragic hero is not perfect. Macbeth, though he seemed to be, was not perfect. If he was perfect he never would have killed so many innocent people. Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his ambition. When he encounters the witches and they predict that he will be not only be thane of Cawdor but also king he is immediately overthrown by his ambition. Macbeths best friend Banquo also gets a prophecy from the witches. Unlike Banquo, however, Macbeth takes the predictions seriously and can’t stop thinking about them. While Banquo is doubting whether the witches prophecy are true, Macbeth is...
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