Macbeth is a Shakespearean Tragedy
Macbeth is considered to be one of the greatest Shakespearean tragedies written by William Shakespeare. According to A.C. Bradley, it is the "most vehement, the most concentrated, perhaps we may say the most tremendous, of the tragedies" (Bradley 333). Macbeth, written by Shakespeare is a Shakespearean tragedy because it has a tragic hero, mathemata, and a hamartia. These three characteristics are crucial to have in a Shakespearean tragedy and prove that Macbeth is indeed one. More specifically, the tragic hero is one of the most important of the three because without the hero, sympathy cannot be evoked.
Macbeth is a tragedy because it contains a tragic hero. In a Shakespearean tragedy, it is imperative that the tragic hero is of high estate, affects the whole nation and evokes pity and fear from the audience. The tragic hero in Macbeth is Macbeth himself. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is introduced as the Thane of Glamis and "a general of extraordinary prowess" (Bradley 44) in Duncan's army. When a battle takes place, Macbeth bravely defends Scotland in the battle and is victorious. When he returns home, King Duncan praises him:
O worthiest cousin!
....Thou art so far before....
Only I have left to say,
More is thy due than more than all can pay. (Shakespeare 1.4.17-24) Duncan states that Macbeth is his worthiest kinsmen and has done so much for him that he owes Macbeth more than he can ever repay. The audience can identify that Macbeth is a significant character of high estate because he is already Thane of Glamis, and is well respected by the king of Scotland. Macbeth's high social standing evokes pity and fear from the audience because his sins and downfall are emphasized. The audience suspects him to be virtuous, therefore arousing fear when he commits sins. Also, he has a lot more to lose than a regular citizen; Macbeth eventually loses his mind, wife, house, reputation, and kingship. Since Macbeth is a character of high estate and evokes pity and fear for the audience, he is the tragic hero in Macbeth.
Macbeth is also a tragic hero because he is a character of high estate in two additional ways. After the victorious battle, Macbeth is greeted by two noblemen of Scotland sent by the king: "He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor. /In which addition, hail, most worthy Thane, /for it is thine" (Shakespeare 1.3.111-113).When the Macdonwald, the Thane of Cawdor, commits treason, he is executed and a new Thane is chosen. After hearing about Macbeth's success in the battle, King Duncan appoints Macbeth as the new Thane of Cawdor. As a result of Macbeth's nobility, loyalty and bravery, he earns his title as Thane of Cawdor thus proving he is of high estate. When King Duncan dies, Macbeth is chosen to be King of Scotland. Usually, when a king dies, their heir becomes king. However, since both of Duncan's sons fled the country for their own safety, Macbeth is chosen to be King. This shows the audience that Macbeth is well respected by the citizens of Scotland because he appears to be the best king, second to Duncan's sons. As the new King of Scotland, Macbeth's fate evidently has an affect on the welfare of the whole nation. In conclusion, Macbeth is a tragic hero because he is of high estate in several ways, evokes pity and fear from the audience and affects the welfare of the whole nation. When the nation is negatively affected, order must be restored. This is done through the resolution of the plot, also known as mathemata.
Mathemata is an extremely important characteristic of a Shakespearean tragedy because it re-establishes the moral order of the world in the play. In Shakespeare's play, order is restored when Macbeth is killed: "Behold where stands/The usurper's [Macbeth's] cursed head. The time is free" (Shakespeare 5.8.55-56).Macbeth is considered as the evil defilement and 'sickness' of Scotland because he perpetrates a series of murders,...
Cited: Arif, G. M. Javed. "Macbeth 's Identity Crisis: Shakespeare as the Saviour." Academia.edu. N.p., Dec. 2000. Web. 15 Dec. 2011.
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Shakespeare, William. The Global Shakespeare Series: The Tragedy of Macbeth with Related Readings. Eds. Dom Saliani, Chris Ferguson, and Dr. Tim Scott. Albany, N.Y.: International Thomson Pub Nelson Canada, 1997. Print.
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