Macbeth As A Tragic Character

This essay has a total of 1199 words and 5 pages.

Macbeth As A Tragic Character


In all genres of literature, there are numerous character types one might encounter. Some
bring humor or comic relief to a more serious plot, while others bring both pity and fear
to the minds of the audience. A tragic character is one who shows characteristics above
normality, while simultaneously giving evidence to the audience concerning his or her
tragic flaw that causes the character's life to end in an abnormal state of events. "A
tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt
that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him." (George Orwell, Columbia Dictionary
of Quotations) In a tragedy the main character rises to greatness, then continues to fall
down a shame spiral, which leads to his or her downfall. Throughout his regression from
life as a decent and moral man, to becoming indifferent to what is fair and what is foul,
Macbeth brought both an immense tragic fate onto himself as well as creating tragedy in
the lives of his peers. Macbeth regressed from being a decent, moral man, to someone
closely resembling a devil, who could make no distinction between good and evil. Macbeth
became so engrossed in himself as well as the prophecies that were laid upon him by the
three witches, that he became indifferent to the thoughts and feelings of the people
around him, who once considered themselves to be this demon's friend. The process of this
tragedy was slow to let the audience become comfortable with the power and happiness of
the main character. Then, suddenly, signs appeared, foreshadowing an imminent climax as
the main character headed toward his inexorable fate.


As the play begins a battle ensues between King Duncan of Scotland and Macdonwald of
Norway. Macbeth fights bravely on Scotland's side, killing Macdonwald himself. King Duncan
hears of Macbeth's brave and noble qualities, crowning him the new Thane of Cawdor. The
king states that the old Thane should not device, "... Our bosom interest: go pronounce
his present death, And with his former title greet Macbeth." (I ii 63-65) Macbeth is
hostile to accept the rank, because earlier three witches prophesied that the new hero
would become Thane of Cawdor even though there was one at that time. Since Macbeth was
crowned Thane of Cawdor, Banquo and Macbeth believe that the three weird sisters are able
to correctly tell them their fate. Macbeth now having higher-ranking authority begins to
have his ambition act up on him; thus, he craves more power. Lady Macbeth organizes King
Duncan's murder, which increased Macbeth's will to become king, enabling the overzealous
ruler to rise up to the ultimate height. The murder is carried out, but not as planned,
driving Macbeth to kill the king himself. Macbeth states to everyone after the discovery
of the dead king, "Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man. Th' expedition of my violent
love..." (II iii 111-112) This is only done to destroy the thoughts that may have targeted
Macbeth as one who is characterized by a drive to kill the king.


Further on in the play, Macbeth travels to meet the witches and demands to know what lies
ahead of him. The three witches predict what he is prepared to ask and produce the first
apparition, the armed head. The first apparition tells Macbeth to beware Macduff.
Continues for 3 more pages >>