The Tragedy of Macbeth
Shakespeare is perhaps most noted for his tragic plays. He has written many great tragedies, one, which was written in 1606 and was titled Macbeth. A tragedy is the story of a great person whose character flaw eventually leads to his downfall. Macbeth’s flaw is his ambition, which he shares with his wife. There are also many incidents in the play that support the idea of the tragedy being the deterioration of its main character Macbeth. Macbeth is a tragedy in which human actions have unavoidable consequences, where the character’s mistakes are never forgiven or reconciled. It is a tragedy because Macbeth is overly ambitious, and also, because he is too easily persuaded to do things he knows are immoral and unethical.
The first example of Macbeth’s lack of self control is apparent in act one, scene three. The three witches approach Macbeth and Banquo, who are returning home from a victorious battle. The witches deliver to Macbeth and Banquo strange prophecies and advice. After the witches vanish, Ross bestows upon Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth then believes the witches’ prophecies. Banquo questions the prophecies and assures Macbeth that it may just be a coincidence. Macbeth fails to consider Banquo’s observation and says, “Two truths are told/ […] This supernatural soliciting/ cannot be ill […], If ill,/ why hath it given me earnest of success,/ commencing in a truth?”(1.3.127-132). These words give evidence of Macbeth being unable to grasp reality. He is too easily persuaded to do things he knows are wrong.
Another factor that affects Macbeth being able to make his own decisions is his wife, Lady Macbeth. She uses many tactics to persuade Macbeth, including questioning his status as a man. Although he can be persuaded to carry out ruthless deeds, there is evidence of Macbeth having a conscience and being in doubt: “If we should fail?”(1.7.59). Lady Macbeth counters this by saying, “We fail?/ But screw your...
Cited: Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Toronto: Oxford University. Press, 2002
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