How “Bad Luck” is evident in Macbeth
PHIL 375 March 30, 2012
Many people are superstitious, which leads to the belief that “bad luck” is often the cause of tragic circumstances. “Bad luck” can be something as simple as your shoelace breaks to something cataclysmal like a windstorm blows a tree through your living room. McGinn describes tragedy as “a miss match between situation and character” (194) but in Shakespearean literature you need an element of “bad luck” to get a tragedy. McGinn explains that everyone has flaws but there generally is no flaw that will cause a tragedy by itself. McGinn clarifies that you need a flawed character and the right situation in order to have a tragedy. If we have a flawed situation with a good character we do not get a tragedy and also if we have a flawed character in a good situation the same is also true. It is only the combination of a flawed situation and a character flaw that we are able to achieve a tragedy and “bad luck” seems to be the link that connects them. McGinn goes on to explain that Shakespeare is careful to select the right flaw that combined with the right situation will lead to the tragic consequences for that character (194-195). Throughout the play Macbeth there are many examples of both a flawed character and the right situation. Through the expertise of Shakespeare combining the perfect mixture of ingredients, he successfully creates an epic tragedy and without “bad luck” the story would never exist.
Firstly, in the very beginning of the play witches appear to Macbeth and his friend, Banquo, and tell them of some prophecies that will change their lives forever. They inform Macbeth that he will be the King of Scotland and Banquo’s children will be king but he never will. This is the beginning of a bad situation for Macbeth because although he initially dismisses it as lies he is encouraged when he is promoted to Thane of Cawdor. This brings to light his ambition to be king and after...
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