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Hero or Zero?

By higgeldypiggeldy Dec 16, 2010 498 Words
Norman Mailer once said, “For what does it mean to be a hero? It requires you to be prepared to deal with forces larger than yourself,” to be a hero means adequately confront forces and obstacles greater than yourself. In William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Macbeth is not a hero because he does not overcome forces that are greater than him.

The three witches foresee Macbeth’s future as Thane of Cawdor and king. Once he becomes Thane of Cawdor, he also becomes ruthless and ambitious. He thinks the prophecy of becoming king will come true, as well. Macbeth’s ambition weakens him and forces him to kill King Duncan. One can see he is not a hero, but a tragic hero, this leading to his demise. “Per scelera simper sceleribus tutum est iter” –Agamemmnon. This quote means the safe way through crime is more crime. It pertains to Macbeth because his first crime brings him to future crime.

Unlike the witches, there was also a powerful force in reality—Macduff. Macduff had an advantage over Macbeth from the apparitions made by the witches. The apparition of the floating head said, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Fear Macduff. Beware Thane of Fife.” (4.1) The floating head foreshadows the murder of Macbeth. The apparition was a warning to Macbeth. Macduff is spurred on by his anger of Macbeth killing his family, and takes Macbeth’s life in return.

As well as Macduff, Lady Macbeth can be included as a real and powerful force over Macbeth. Between Macbeth and his lady, she is stronger. “I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.” (1.7) One can gather that from this quote, Lady Macbeth is comfortable with killing. Lady Macbeth is the mastermind of the murder, and convinces Macbeth into it. She attacks his manhood, “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man.” (1.7) She persuades Macbeth by belittling and verbally emasculating him. Macbeth gave in to her prodding and killed King Duncan.

Deep down, every man has an innate ability to overcome obstacles and succeed, some greater than others. The difference between one who is overly ambitious or not, is how one controls their impulses to get what they want. Macbeth’s continual pursuit of power leaves him constantly wanting more control. He finds himself trying to fulfill this ambition at any cost, eventually leading him to his downfall. His hunger for power is insatiable and he succumbs to outside forces, such as Macduff who in the end kills him. For one to truly be a hero they must courageously face the odds, no matter how strong outside forces are. Macbeth did not courageously face outside forces, he was corrupted by them.

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