Macbeth A Tragic Hero





Macbeth is seen as a tragic hero, he compromises his honor and neglects moral responsibility to attain power and position resulting in his tragic end. The significant events that are mentioned in this paper are events that are unfolded to show the path that led a misfortuned man to lose his honor in his tragic end.
A Tragic hero is defined as someone whose life is determined by four important elements: The first and most important of these elements is fate. Fate is defined as the power or force held to predetermine events. Fate is another word for one’s fortune and destiny. The word fate is first mentioned in the play when Lady Macbeth receives Macbeth’s letter telling of the witches’ prophecies. She is afraid that he will not take advantage of his opportunity to take the crown, “Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crown’d withal”(1.5 29-30). Macbeth faces his fate at the end of the play after he himself created the monster within.
The second element is Macbeth’s weakness, which is fear. We often see this in Macbeth’s character. Being a tragic hero often involves fear because without fear Macbeth would not be human. He himself causes the fear that eats him alive. It is fear that in the end returns and takes the life of this unlawful king. In Shakespeare and the Craft of Tragedy by William Rosen states, “Macbeth’s fear is not the fear of conscience, it is the terror that springs from his inability to control his fate.”(90).
The third characteristic of a tragic hero is Macbeth’s poor decision making which results in his tragic end. Macbeth is constantly acting without thinking first because of his lust for power. Throughout the play, Macbeth will make many decisions that lack an honorable outcome. He does not care who his choices will affect as long as he gets what he wants.
The fourth and last characteristic of Macbeth as a tragic hero is his realization of his flaws, but being unable to prevent the tragedy. When the end of the play, Macbeth realizes that the prophecies have indeed come true. These prophecies led him to drown in his flaws. In the end Macbeh acknowledges his flaws, by then it is too late.
In the beginning of the play, Macbeth indeed has allegiance for Scotland and Duncan. His head was not filled with the idea of taking over the throne or the kingdom. He was loyal to his king and to his friends, and he showed his honor during his battle Macdonwald in the beginning of the play. The ironic thing about his killing of Macdonwald is how Macbeth kills him. He slits him from his navel to his jaw, and then not being satisfied he cuts of Macdonwald’s head. This action by Macbeth foreshadows the brutal and malicious person that he really becomes as the play unfolds.
Macbeth also goes into battle with the King of Norway. He succeeds and wins the battle over the Norwegian army. Macbeth truly succeeds in his goal to win the battle, and Duncan responds by giving Macbeth a new and important title, which is Thane of Cawdor. He then orders the present Thane of Cawdor to be executed because of betrayal. King Duncan bestows his honor upon Macbeth and states his “great happiness” on the events of Macbeth’s accomplishments.
Here is where one of the most important scenes of the play occurs. The three witches are introduced and are already talking about the events and future events of Macbeth’s life. In the first scene, the witches create an evil tone and mysterious setting. Scene one creates an atmosphere of evil that will continue throughout the play. It was known that in Elizabethan times, witches were traditionally thought of as evil and connected to the devil’s work.
The witches enter and state that “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” This statement simply means that “what is good will be bad and what is bad will be good.” To allude to the initial prophecy of the witches, the first line that Macbeth states in the play is, “So foul and fair a day I have not seen, (1.3. 38). This repetition links Macbeth to the witches. The witches’ prophecy to Macbeth