The Degeneration of a Hero: Macbeth

Topics: Macbeth, Three Witches, Macbeth of Scotland Pages: 3 (1158 words) Published: January 7, 2011
The degeneration of a hero: Macbeth
Aristotle once said, "The tragic hero must be neither villain nor a virtuous man, but a character between these two extremes.”[1] Such a person would be Macbeth, who begins as a highly respected thane by the King. However, due to the mystical prediction of the Three Witches and Macbeth’s unquenchable thirst for power, he determines to remove all obstacles standing in his way of becoming king. Shakespeare expresses his belief that anyone, from valiant hero to ruthless villain, can result in a fatal and tragic ending - or can they not? In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the titular character is predominantly good, his greatness and bravery in battle for his country propels him to the title of a great thane. Unfortunately, he falls from prominence due to personality flaws that eventually lead to his self-destruction. His desire for becoming king weakens his integrity and he falls into the temptation of evil, which has fatal consequences. This reflects the moral message of the play: ‘Fair is foul and foul is fair”. (Shakespeare 1) The play embarks with showing us Macbeth’s portrayal as a man who has proven his courage and heroism in battle, forging the solution to all his problems with his own hands. The Captain even approaches the king, Duncan, to report about Macbeth’s vigilance saying he is a “brave [man who] well deserves that name.” (2) after he meets the traitor Macdonald and kills him single-handedly. His actions in the first scene emphasize the fact that Macbeth began as a loyal soldier, defending the King from those looking to abdicate his power. Due to this, he is also rewarded with the title, the Thane of Cawdor in addition to being the Thane of Glamis. This action demonstrates the King’s trust in Macbeth to handle increased responsibility. Through his bestowal of the title upon Macbeth, Duncan also displays strong favoritism towards Macbeth. “What he [Macdonald] hath lost, noble Macbeth has won” (4)....
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