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"Macbeth": The Tragic Hero

By nadientaha Dec 08, 2013 962 Words
What is a tragic hero? Who contributes to the downfall of such character? A tragic hero is a character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat (Tragic Hero). William Shakespeare, has portrayed one such character in his play Macbeth. The character of Macbeth performs cruel deeds over the course of the play and transforms into an evil, deceitful, and corrupt leader. (Build sympathy for Macbeth) Lady Macbeths wicked plans, the prophecies of the witches, and Macbeths urge to become king have helped in his own downfall. However, Shakespeare creates a surrounding where one could feel nothing but sympathy and pity for Macbeth through the use of Macbeth's actions and dialogue. (Build sympathy for Macbeth)

The witches inform Macbeth through the prophases that not only will he be the Thane of Cawdor, but he will also be king, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!” (1.3.53) The witches also mention that Banquo will be the father to the line of kings even though he will not be one himself , “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. / So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!” (1.3.69-70) Although the witches help Macbeth gain the throne, showing him visions of his fate they indirectly advise Macbeth to kill King Banquo by using subtle form of temptation when they inform Macbeth that he is destined to be king and that Banquo will be the father to the line of kings. (Witches cause Macbeth's downfall) By placing this thought in his mind, they effectively guide him on the path to the beginning of his own destruction. (Witches cause Macbeth's downfall) After Banquo is killed, his ghost attends Macbeth's banquet however his ghost is visible only to Macbeth. (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth) Shakespeare creates sympathy towards Macbeth when, Macbeths loses all composure in front of his guests when he sees Banquo’s ghost. His deteriorating mental state becomes known to all when he first beholds the ghost. He cries out, "Thou canst say I did it / Never shake thy gory locks at me" (3.4.61-62) The reader feels pity for a defenseless Macbeth as it becomes evident that his mental balance is diminishing and this ghost is a direct result of Macbeth's guilty conscience (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth). Macbeth, who was once a strong, righteous character, has turned into a paranoid shell of a man (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth).

In his rise to power, after Macbeth heard the prophecies of the witches he did not personally have the ambition and eagerness to take the throne and become king of Scotland (The Direct and Indirect Cause). On the other hand, however, once Lady Macbeth heard that her husband had been fortuned to be king, her lust for greed and selfishness drove her to insist that Macbeth take action immediately to seize the opportunity to become king. (The Direct and Indirect Cause) After Lady Macbeth reads the letter from her husband detailing the confrontation with the witches she immediately resolves to have Duncan killed to fulfill the prophecy. Lady Macbeth mentions how she will persuade and talk Macbeth out of whatever is keeping him away from the crown, this includes the killing of Duncan .“ Hie thee hither, / That I may pour my spirits in thine ear /And chastise with the valor of my tongue / All that impedes thee from the golden round, /Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem / To have thee crowned withal.” (1.5.24-29) Macbeth is unsure of the morality of the murder, he carrys on in the monologue, "I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed" (I.7.14-15). While Macbeth contemplates whether murdering Duncan is possible, Lady Macbeth goes on to remark that if he murders Duncan, Macbeth "would be so much more the man" (I.7.58). This convinces Macbeth into committing the murder. The audience, however, feels sympathy for an insecure Macbeth as he begins his spiral into ultimate destruction (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth). It appears that without the push of Lady Macbeth the deed would have been unlikely to have taken place. (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth)

Even though Macbeth was influenced by his wife Lady Macbeth and by the witches, Macbeth is also responsible for the actions that lead to his fate. Because ignoring the voice in his own mind telling him right from wrong, Macbeth has set himself to his own destruction. He knows what he is doing is wrong even before he murders Duncan, but he allows Lady Macbeth and greed to cloud his judgment. (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth) Macbeth could have dismissed the prophecies like Banquo did, but he instead chose to believe in the predictions, which ultimately lead to his own downfall. (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth) Yet again, Shakespeare allows the readers to sympathize for Macbeth by displaying Macbeths hopelessness in the final act. Until the last moment, Macbeth believes that “none of women born / shall harm Macbeth.” (4.1.88-89) However, Macduff crushes Macbeth's last hope when he informs Macbeth that he, Macduff, was "from his mother's womb untimely ripped” (5.8.19-20) “The reader feels sympathy for Macbeth because of his brave display of conviction and pursuit of honorable death. Macbeth dies with dignity by not trying to fight his fate, also invoking pity from the reader.” (Macbeth Causes His Own Downfall)

Macbeth is considered a tragic hero because his actions lead to his defeat. However, his wife Lady Macbeth’s mad plans and the witches prophesies also had a major contribution to his downfall. Taking into consideration that Macbeth started off as a respected general, a devoted husband, and a loyal subject of the king, sympathy towards him was evoked even after he transformed into an evil, deceitful, and corrupt leader (Evoking Sympathy for Macbeth). Macbeth is considered a tragic hero because his actions lead to his defeat.

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