Unit 2: Explorative study
Unit 2: Explorative study
Shakespeare's "Anthony and Cleopatra" and "Macbeth" are the studies of a tragic hero; a hero who falls from grace due to 'hamartia'. Explore the tragedies as a commentary on the infallibility of man.
The tragic hero is a man of majestic position. He is an extraordinary man with exceptional qualities and magnitude about him. His own destruction is for a greater cause or belief. As Aristotle states "a man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall”. Their downfall happens through many events; sometimes due to excessive arrogance and because of this he is doomed from the beginning. He bears no responsibility for possessing his flaw or for his actions. He has discovered fate by his own actions, and not by things happening to him. Tragic heroes are usually kings or leaders which in turn affects the fate and the welfare of a whole nation or number of people. Peasants do not inspire pity and fear as great men do. The sudden fall from greatness to nothing provides a sense of contrast. Probably the most important characteristic of a Shakespearean tragic hero is that one must posses a tragic flaw, because without the flaw, there would never be a downfall. While the tragic flaw is the key element in a tragedy, the tragic hero’s social status is also of high importance. The tragic hero mirrors everyone's, positive traits and faults. For each tragic hero the suffering has gone on too long and the only way to receive redemption, and to end the suffering, is death. It is in their death scene that the tragic figure is transformed into the tragic hero. His characteristics range between two extremes – he is eminently good and benign yet whose misfortune is brought about not by blemish or immorality, but by some error or fault. Shakespeare’s tragic heroes tend to be consciously doing wrong and driven by wild passions.
Macbeth is a perfect tragic hero created by Shakespeare's brilliant mind. Macbeth is a noble and courageous warrior but his reaction to the witches’ pronouncements emphasizes his powerful desire to gain power and prestige; even if he has to commit a sinful deed such as murder of the most powerful man in Scotland. Macbeth is standing on a path where he has the option to make a choice but it was due to lady Macbeth that pushed Macbeth over the edge and made him go forth with his decision and commit a wrong. She told him, "Thou wouldst be great Art not without ambition”. Macbeth was a great soldier but he too succumbed to ambition and greed which in turn led to his own downfall. Lady Macbeth knew that her husband was an ambitious man but she constantly feared that he is too full of “th’ milk of human kindness” to take the steps necessary to make himself king.” When you durst do it,” she says, “then you were a man”, this shows that Macbeth is constantly taunted and dared by his wife every time he faltered; she constantly challenged his manhood. Her Persuasion drove Macbeth to commit the greatest sin considered in that period; treason.
The influence of Macbeth's wife, Lady Macbeth also contributed to deteriorate his character. Lady Macbeth plays an important role in this play because she provided a scheme which caused Macbeth to assassinate King Duncan. After Macbeth had murdered King Duncan, he later regrets on his act. At that point in the play the audience can note the change in Macbeth's character. Macbeth's first murder was a trying experience for him, however after the first murder; killing seemed to be the only solution to maintain his reign over the people of Scotland. Macbeth's ambition also influenced his declining character. However, Macbeth's ambition had not been strong enough to carry the motive to kill King Duncan. Lady Macbeth's influence also comes in to play because if not for Lady Macbeth, his ambition would not have...