Macbeth-A Tragic Hero Essay, Research Paper
To be classified as a tragic hero, the character would have to be some kind of person of importance and possess the qualities of a genuinely good, courageous person. The character would be someone whom we admire and wish to succeed. This character seems to be almost guaranteed to succeed and have things go his/her way except they contain one major and undeniable fault in their character or personality; they possess a tragic flaw which continually sets the character back and further thrusts him/her towards their impending demise. Thus is exactly the case with Macbeth.
Macbeth in the beginning of the play is one of the nobles of Scotland. He holds the title of the Thane of Glamis. He is an admired general and has just defeated Scotland s enemies and is now a hero of Scotland. He does not realize also that he is soon to be rewarded with the title of Thane of Cawdor which was stripped of the traitorous former thane. Macbeth is now a hero of the land who now holds two prestigious titles and is a prime candidate for the heir to the throne. Macbeth at this point has everything going for him and life is good. The audience can relate to him and he is the protagonist of the play. Macbeth s problems all begin when he is confronted by three witches upon a heath while Macbeth was making his way back to King Duncan s castle with his friend and fellow general Banquo. These witches greet Macbeth with three titles. They call him Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King that shalt be hereafter. Macbeth is confused but at this point dismisses such foolish and improbable claims.
The Thane of Cawdor lives,
A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief,
No more than to be Cawdor. (1.3. 73-75)
On his way back to the castle Macbeth runs into Ross who tells Macbeth that he has been given the title of Thane of Cawdor. It is at this point that we first see a glimpse of Macbeth s tragic flaw; his driving ambition. Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor / The greatest is behind. (1.9. 117) He now realizes that if the prophesy of him becoming Thane of Cawdor is possible then becoming king is perhaps not so farfetched. This feeling is short lived since when he arrives at the castle, King Duncan announces that his eldest son Malcolm will succeed him on the throne. At this point Macbeth realizes that he will either have to give up hope of ever becoming king, or he will have to take the necessary steps needed to attain his aspiritions.
The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o er-leap,
For in my way it lies. (1.4. 48-50)
The last piece of the puzzle to Macbeth s tragic flaw is perhaps Macbeth s wife, Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth finds out about Macbeth s interlude with the witches and how he was prophesized to become king. She immediately decides that no matter what, becoming king is Macbeth s imminent destiny. She realizes though that Macbeth is perhaps too kind to take the necessary steps needed to attain his aspiritions. Yet do I fear thy nature; / It is too full o the milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way. (1.5. 15-17) Lady Macbeth is the one who convinces Macbeth to push aside all feelings of regret or remorse and to stop at nothing until their goals are realized. Because of the deadly combination of Macbeth s driving ambition and his possibly even more ambitious wife, he follows through with his plans and kills Duncan while in the confines of Macbeth s own home. There is now no hope for Macbeth, for he has chosen the path of evil and there is now no turning back. For it is certain that Macbeth s tragic flaw, his driving ambition, was the cause of a once exceptional human being and hero to become a completely emotionless, evil character; a tragic hero.