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Macbeth - Tragic Hero

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A Tragic Hero

Ernest Hemingway once said, "Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed, but not defeated". Ernest Hemingway is stating that you can take down a man by demolishing them for good yet when it comes to defeating them it is not as easy. This is because each man has their own ambitions and desires that they will not quit on regardless of their surroundings. During Shakespeare's play Macbeth, Macbeth is classified as a tragic hero. A tragic hero is defined as a character that is born noble yet is destroyed by a flaw that eventually leads to their downfall. However, a tragic hero is not a straightforward villain, he is one who makes a tragic mistake that eventually causes him to lose power or possibly die. Furthermore, tragedy is the breakdown of something of significance, not the collapse of something that was tragic to begin with. As the story progresses, Macbeth meets witches who prophesize that he will become Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and also the future king. Consequently, Macbeth's inquisitiveness took over which caused him to act blindly in return to these prophesies. It is evident that Macbeth is a tragic hero because his progression went from him being initially viewed as heroic, followed by him becoming overly ambitious and then the play concludes with everybody turning against him.

During the beginning of the play, Macbeth is recognized for his bravery and courage. Throughout the first battle between Scotland and Norway, Macbeth fights with audacity and kills the villainous rebel Macdonwald. After the battle the Captain explains, "For brave Macbeth- well he deserves that name- Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution."(1.2.16-18). Once Macbeth demonstrated that he is a strong fighter, he was then well respected in his town. Not only did he become thane of Cawdor, but he proved himself to the King as a noble gentleman. Once King Duncan heard what the Captain had to say about Macbeth and that the thane of Cawdor had betrayed him, he demanded to see Macbeth so he could crown him the new thane of Cawdor. Additionally, Duncan is very proud to have Macbeth as the new Cawdor. This is proven when Duncan says, "My worthy Cawdor!"(1.4.40) and it shows that he thinks Macbeth is admirable as well. Moreover, Duncan is now honoured to have Macbeth as his thane and has full respect for Macbeth. Furthermore, when King Duncan was talking about Macbeth he also said, "That the proportion both of thanks and payment Might have been mine! Only I have left to say, More is thy due than more than all can pay."(1.4.20-23). Duncan realizes Macbeths potential and worth which causes him to respect him more for his efforts in battle. Macbeth's character starts out being rewarded and recognized for being brave and courageous. His new found nobility instils confidence in Macbeth and he begins to feel worthy of his titles. The compliments he receives for his part in battle placed him on a pedestal in which he was destined to fall from, resulting in his downfall.

Macbeth's attitude quickly changes from confident to ambitious when he starts contemplating the idea of devious actions towards the king. His tragic flaw is a result of his impatient thoughts and curious actions. After receiving prophecies from the three witches, Macbeth finds himself wondering more about the curious words the witches tell him. After the witches revealed the three prophecies to Macbeth he says, "Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more. By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis. But how of Cawdor?"(1.3.71-73). Macbeths curiosity gets the better of him and he ends up wondering more about what the witches have to tell him. The third prophecy states that Macbeth will be king, to which he begins to question how he can gain this title. Macbeth starts to realize that if he was noble enough to be king he would not have to change who he is, "I am Thane of Cawdor If good, why do yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair" (1.3.135-137). Macbeth is already starting to have thoughts of ambition when he pictures himself killing the king to get what he wants. Ultimately, the thought scares him and makes his hair stand on end, but his thirst for power is uncontrollable and he wants to be king as soon as he hears the prophecies. Macbeth is not satisfied with his titles already and he decides that instead of waiting for fate to take its toll,



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