Home » Macbeth Tragic Hero Or A Dead Butcher English Literature Essay

Macbeth Tragic Hero Or A Dead Butcher English Literature Essay

In my opinion, Macbeth is represented as a tragic hero. Macbeth’s characger is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. In many of Shakespeare’s tragedies, the main character starts off as a very brave, heroic person whom everyone praises. However as time moves on, the character loses reputation because he has to face a moral dilemma and fatal flaw. In Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 2, we know that Macbeth is the main character, because of his brave actions in the battle. A tragic hero’s exceptional nature generally raises him above the average level of humanity. Macbeth’s case the fatal flaw, catharsis was his ambition.

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Macbeth’s heroism can be seen by the way Macbeth rejects ‘fortune’ that is personified as a glorious warrior. Macbeth is described as ‘Brave Macbeth’ and also as a servant of the God Valour; he is ‘Valour’s minion’. The godMacbeth’s violent nature supports his position as a hero fighting for Scotland. Macbeth is seen to have ‘unseamed him from the nave to the chops.’ Shakespeare creates a violent imagery of Macbeth brutally killing Macdonwald. Clearly this is violent but also skilful. The use of ‘unseamed’ is a metaphor from clothing that shows his precision and expertise. Macbeth can be seen as a heroic warrior as he is fighting for Scotland. He is represented as a valiant character who hunts down Scotland’s enemies.

‘Carved out his passage till he faced the slave’

We can see Macbeth’s skill as he carves like an expert. He is an accomplished killing machine, but because he serves Scotland he is not a butcher even though he has the skills of a butcher.

When Macbeth and Banquo returned to Scotland, Macbeth was greeted by 3 witches with 3 different greetings. The three witches say,

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“All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! All hail Macbeth that shalt be king hereafter.” (Act 1 Scene 3 Line 48)

Macbeth did not believe the witches’ prophecies at first, but after Ross informs Macbeth that the king has just gave him the position of Thane of Cawdor he starts to think that they are true. When the prophecy of being the thane of Cawdor, he thinks that it is obvious that the other prophecy of becoming the king will come true as well. This declines his nobility by thinking of being a king, which means that he would have to break the chain of being. The chain of being is the status of god, Jesus, angels, kings and etc. and the King is God’s appointed representative so Macbeth cannot be King. Also, Macbeth knows that if Duncan dies for some reason, it would be the princes who’d be the kings afterwards. Macbeth becomes confused about how he’d be a king when he was nowhere near the throne line but he still tries to think about how to become the king as he is influenced by his fatal flaw; ambition.

In Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth knows about the witches’ prophecies. Lady Macbeth really wants to become the queen of Scotland, therefore she starts encouraging Macbeth to murder King Duncan. Lady Macbeth puts an enormous impact on Macbeth of murdering Duncan. At first, he denied Lady Macbeth’s suggestion, but in the end he does murder Duncan which is his moral dilemma.

“I’ll go no more; I am afraid to think what I have done; Look I won’t again I dare not.” (Act 2, scene 2, line 51)

This quote is when Macbeth came back after murdering Duncan and tells Lady Macbeth that he would never do such thing again. This shows that Macbeth is scared about the deed he has done. Lady Macbeth then takes control of this situation, where Macbeth is too scared to do anything. This quote is when Lady Macbeth says that this water will clean their bloody hands and erase their sin.

“…a little water clears us of this deed.” (Act 2,

Scene 2, line 67).

The third prophecy comes true after Malcolm and Donalbein runs away from Scotland, scared for their lives and Macbeth becomes the King of Scotland. However, now he is eager to do anything to keep on being the king of Scotland. Therefore, he hired assassins to kill Banquo because he knows about the prophecy and Banquo has started to suspect Macbeth. At this point, Macbeth’s position declines even more than when it was when Macbeth had murdered King Duncan. Killing your best friend to remain as a king is not very heroic. He also, wanted Banquo’s sons to be killed, because the prophecy said that Banquo’s sons would be kings. This means that Banquo’s son, Fleance would be a threat to Macbeth or his descendants. However, Fleance escapes and Macbeth becomes irritated. He says,

“Then comes my fit again; I had else been perfect. Whole as the marble, founded a the rock, as broad and general as the casing air, but now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in to saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo’s safe?” (Act 3 Scene 4 lines 21)

Macbeth’s decline in status is very clear now. Macbeth is a whole different character since the beginning of the play. He was loyal to the king in the beginning, but now he is not afraid of anything. He thought of nothing of killing neither Duncan nor Banquo. He was not afraid of the consequences of his actions even though he knew exactly what they would be. This is also another part of Aristotle’s theory on tragic heroes.

After this at Act 4 Scene 1, Macbeth visits the witches to know more about what would happen to him in the future. When Macbeth arrived the witches were preparing the magic cauldron. Macbeth demands the witches to answer his questions when Hecate says that all is ready to be done. Macbeth drinks the cauldron the witches give him and the first apparition appears and warns to Macbeth that he should be aware of Macduff.

In my opinion, Macbeth is a tragic hero in this Shakespeare play. The Aristotle theory about tragic heroes backs the play up. According to Aristotle’s theory about tragic heroes, the character must be at a high status in the beginning, have some virtues, have a tragic flaw, and attain readers’ sympathy in the end of the story. Macbeth fits into all the requirements as a tragic hero. Therefore he is a tragic hero.

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