A Shakespearean tragic hero may be defined as an exceptional being of high degree that contributes to his own degeneration and illustrates a personality flaw. The character of Shakespeare's Macbeth is a perfect example of a tragic hero. Macbeth can be defined as the tragic hero because he is noble by birth with many heroic qualities, but his ambition, combined with the witches' prophecies and the influence of Lady Macbeth leads to his degeneration of character, which brings on a tragedy.
At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a noble, brave, and courageous person. He is extremely loyal and honourable. A wounded soldier describes Macbeth to King Duncan as, "Cannons overcharged with double cracks...doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe, " (I, ii, 37-39). King Duncan is joyous towards Macbeth and his soldiers and rewards Macbeth by making him Thane of Cawdor, “No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive...and with his former title greet Macbeth...what he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won", (I, ii, 63-68). Before hearing his new title Macbeth and Banquo are returning to Scotland from a fierce battle between the Norwegians and the Scottish. They have just won the war for Duncan. This shows the noble virtue of Macbeth`s tragic character. They then encounter three witches. These three witches appear to be wicked, repulsive, and signify all that is wrong and corrupt, but Macbeth`s over-confident attitude is the first characteristic the witches detect, and take advantage of. The witches tell Macbeth that he is going to be Thane of Cawdor, and then be king. They influence, manipulate and arouse Macbeth's curiosity on how he could be the King of Scotland. Later in the scene Ross enters and tells Macbeth that he is the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is shocked by what he hears. The witches' prophecies now spark Macbeth's ambition to become the King of Scotland. If the witches had not told Macbeth these prophecies then Macbeth would still be...
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