January 14, 2008
In Shakespeare's' tragedies, one element is consistent- the tragic hero. Each tragic hero shares certain traits that contribute to his tragedy. They possess a fault that will eventually lead to their demise. Shakespeare's tragic hero is a man of noble birth who falls from a position of honor and respect due to a flaw in his character. Hamlet and Macbeth are portrayed as tragic heroes through their nobility, tragic flaws, and errors in judgment.
During the first scenes of Shakespeare's plays Hamlet and Macbeth, Hamlet and Macbeth's noble status is immediately established. Before Macbeth is introduced to the audience, Duncan and Ross speak of his greatness. Duncan is thrilled to hear of "noble Macbeth['s]" victory over Norway, and tells Ross to go greet his "worthiest cousin" with the news that "what [Thane of Cawdor] hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won" (1.2.67). Macbeth begins with the title of Thane of Glamis, but his new name "worthy Cawdor" (1.2.68) adds to his already established nobility. In the opening scenes of Hamlet, Hamlet's patrimony is revealed to the audience; he is the "most immediate to [Denmark's] throne" (1.2.109). This title of "Sweet Prince" grants him a "noble mind" (3.1.153). "The great love the general gender bear him" corroborates his position as "the expectancy and rose of the fair state" (3.1.153). Ophelia regards Hamlet as the renaissance man with "the glass of fashion, and the mold of form" (3.1.66). Claudius admits that "the Queen his mother lives almost by his looks" (3.1.11-12). Hamlet is already noble by birth, but these portrayals aid the reader to understand his degree of nobility. Even though Hamlet and Macbeth maintain nobility, they each have a tragic flaw, which leads to their collapse.
In spite of the fact that Hamlet and Macbeth are in a position of honor, each has their own tragic flaws. Macbeth encounters the witches after his victory over Norway. Here they hail... [continues]
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