Macbeth and Oedipus Rex Comparison Essay

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A Tragic Hero, as defined by Aristotle, is a man of noble reputation who is admired by society but has a tragic flaw, which leads to his downfall. Shakespeare and Sophocles were both inspired by the theme of Tragic Heroes and have used this theme in their plays Macbeth and Oedipus Rex, respectively. These plays teach us moral lessons and it is imperative to decide which character best fits the title of a Tragic Hero. Undoubtedly, Macbeth and Oedipus are both Tragic Heroes but in different ways. Hamartia is a tragic flaw, which leads to a reversal of good fortune. An analysis of the two characters’ hamartia, the sympathy they gain from the audience, the characters’ roles in their inevitable downfall, and the role of the supernatural will emphasize why Macbeth and Oedipus are both Tragic Heroes in different ways.

Macbeth and Oedipus both had a hamartia. On the one hand, Macbeth’s hamartia was his ambition for power and gullibility in trusting the witches. This ambition made him commit heinous crimes and led him to trust the witches. He kept going back to the witches for more prophecies ever since the first two predictions made by them came true. He said to Lady Macbeth, “I will tomorrow—/ And betimes I will—to the weird sisters./ More shall they speak, for now I am bent to know,/ By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good,/ All causes shall give way. I am in blood/ Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,/ Returning were as tedious as go o'er./ Strange things I have in head, that will to hand,/ Which must be acted ere they may be scanned./” (Macbeth, Act III, Scene 4, Lines 158-166) Macbeth’s flaw was that he became overconfident because of the witches’ predictions and made impulsive decisions based on these prophecies. He was gullible to believe that the witches were helping him; whereas the truth was that they were his real enemies. He also thought that he could control his fate based on the prophecies but he was mistaken because his downfall was

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