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By ZaynaNaseem Apr 28, 2014 1331 Words
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Explore how Shakespeare uses language and dramatic technique to present doubt and uncertainty in the minds of Othello and Macbeth.

Both Emilia (or Desdemona) and Lady Macbeth are characters in difficult circumstances. Explore how Shakespeare uses language and dramatic technique to present the stresses they endure.

Explore how Shakespeare uses language and dramatic technique to present the weakness in the characters of Othello and Macbeth.


1. Iago and the witches act as catalyst in the plays as they introduce new ideas into the play, was well as Macbeth and Othello. Furthermore throughout, they develop on their own thoughts and ideas, provoking the two main characters further. 2. Both Iago and the witches give some insight, but never provide Othello and Macbeth with the whole picture. Therefore, both O and M facntasize and demand for more, become more and more intrigued and interested with their “stories”. 3. M and O are both satisfied with their positions and relationships at the beginning of the plays, however this certainty declines throughout the play, with the assistance of Iago, LM, and witches. These three characters plant doubt and uncertainty in the minds of O and M, as they become less confident with themselves and the ones around them. They are manipulated.

The advisor
Soldierly qualities

1) Jealousy/power/greed/insecure

2) Influences
Plant seeds of doubt

3) an object/symbol

4) betrayal/ deceptive

5) Guilty ending

Summary of Othello’s changing state of mind before and after doubts take hold

1. supreme self confidence in his soldiership and requited love for D 2. attempts to parry – dismiss lago’s concerns/suggestions 3. in two minds
4. resolved to destroy Cassio and Desdemona
5. inescapable remorse

Summary of Macbeth’s changing state of minds before and after doubts take hold

1. Supremely confident and well-regarded soldier
2. After witches – ambition and doubt together – in two minds 3. With Lady M – in two minds, then resolved
4. After killing Duncan – remorse, pity
5. Resolute and bloody – Banquo
6. Nihilistic – Macduff’s family – all pity and remorse gone 7. Despairing – fallen into the yellow leaf

heart knowcks against my rubs…..light thickens…..tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Well respected soldiers (bravery and honour) at beginning
manipulated/plotted against: Macbeth: 3 witches; Othello; Iago tragic flaw leads to their downfall: Macbeth: ambition; Othello: jealousy commit murder
die at end

iago and witches are catalysts as they speed up the play and introduce new ideas into the play and develop them

Both plays named after main character

The play’s protagonist and hero. Othello is the highly respected general of the armies of Venice, although he is not a native of Venice but rather a Moor, or North African. He is an eloquent and powerful figure, respected by all those around him. In spite of his elevated status, Othello is nevertheless easy prey to insecurities because of his age, his life as a soldier, and his self-consciousness about being a racial and cultural outsider. He possesses a free and open nature that his ensign Iago exploits to twist Othello’s love for his wife, Desdemona, into a powerful and destructive jealousy.

divakeema | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter
Posted May 29, 2007 at 9:34 AM via web
How is Macbeth a tragic hero?
Tagged with literature, macbeth

80 Answers | Add Yours

gwendaward | High School Teacher | Honors
Posted July 15, 2011 at 1:34 AM (Answer #16)
Two words must be defined first:  tragic and hero. Traditionally, a tragic hero is one of high birth who possesses a flaw in character that brings about his own downfall.  This is true of Macbeth.   First, how is Macbeth a hero?  Macbeth is clearly a hero because at the very beginning in Act I, we hear from other characters how heroically Macbeth performed in battle in defense of his king's land.  Against seemingly hopeless odds, Macbeth fights valiantly and defeats the enemy.  Macbeth is praised for his courage in battle, which sets him up in hope of having the crown.  We hear again in Act I from the king how much he appreciates Macbeth.  So, we can surmise that Macbeth is a hero, long before he makes his entrance onto the stage. How is he tragic?  For the audience to recognize the tragic hero, it has to care about what happens to the character, and we do care about what happens to Macbeth.  Now one must ask, what is Macbeth's tragic flaw?  He surely is ambitious.  He says so himself.  Almost immediately after hearing the witches' prophesy, he comtemplates the king's demise.  He is transfixed.  Banquo draws attention to it.  Yet, Macbeth attempts to brush off his reason for delay by lying.  Now we note he is also a liar.  So we notice Macbeth is both ambitious --not so bad--and a liar--not so good. By the end of Act I, we see Macbeth in a tug of war with his conscience.  He wants to be king.  To be king he has to kill the current king, but he doesn't want the consequences.  Therefore, rightfully so, he decides against the murder.   We now must realize Macbeth is also smart--he weighs all the consequenes of an act before acting-- as well as ethical-- he will not kill the king, a guest in his house, a good man, and his kin. If Macbeth were truly the man of character we see in Act I, then our play would end here.  We would have no tragic figure, just a man who knows right from wrong, who knows how to weigh the consequences of life's choices, and who has the wisdom and restraint to reel in his ambitious drives.  But no, Evil waits patiently in the wings as Good takes her bow. Perhaps Shakespeare wanted to show that man is in conflict with himself against the force of evil in his own soul and that Evil has many faces. One can debate whether or not Shakespeare intended the witches or Lady Macbeth to be the evil influences over Macbeth's actions or Macbeth himself.  Either way, we must acknowledge that the smart, ambitious, valiant Macbeth possesses the strength of character NOT to murder his king.  So why does he? To please his wife?  To not appear weak?  To take what the witches declared his?  To satisfy his ambition?  To succumb to dark forces within?  Knowing full well the consequences and being in control of his faculties, Macbeth chooses to perform an act that will propel him beyond redemption, and he knows it. The rest of the story is but an unraveling.  The audience continues to recognize Macbeth's heroic side when he tries to keep Lady Macbeth innocent of his murderous slide, or he speaks tenderly of her when she herself unravels at the magnitude of their deteriorating relationship, and finally when he bravely faces what he recognizes as his last stand.  Yet we also recognize his tragic side as he cannot undo what's been done.  There is no redemption for Macbeth and that is tragic indeed.

conflict between his moral self and his ambition. Ambition wins out, and Macbeth embraces immorality

However, by Act III, Scene 2, Macbeth has resolved himself into a far more stereotypical villain and asserts his manliness over that of his wife. His ambition now begins to spur him toward further terrible deeds, and he starts to disregard and even to challenge Fate and Fortune. Each successive murder reduces his human characteristics still further, until he appears to be the more dominant partner in the marriage. Nevertheless, the new-found resolve, which causes Macbeth to "wade" onward into his self-created river of blood (Act III, Scene 4), is persistently alarmed by supernatural events. The appearance of Banquo's ghost, in particular, causes him to swing from one state of mind to another until he is no longer sure of what is and "what is not" (I:3,142).

Her commentary on the letter gave indications on her character showing how she doubts Macbeth and shows her and his character

Lady Macbeth reading the letter:
Shows her character
Shows Macbeth’s characer
Proves how she doubts him and how he isn’t worthy of the job

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