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Macbeth – tyrant or tragic hero
A tragic hero is said to be doomed from his beginning. Though courage and loyalty dwell in him, the temptation of superior life can be unsurpassable, and a civil person can display vicious, primitive attitudes and carry out evil deeds. Macbeth was an unfortunate man, who seemed insatiable, pitiless, and power-hungry, but really just attempted to cover up a tiny weakness he obtained through incidences beyond his control.
Within Macbeth, there are several indications that may lead a person to think that he was insatiable and selfish. For instance, after the fierce victory over Sweno, Macbeth is presented with a new, more respectable title. “No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive… with his former title greet Macbeth.” (1:2:73-75)
Though he should have been very content with this new placement, the visit from the witches promised him superior reign and wealth. Like any ordinary person, Macbeth reacted with surprise and interest. Here he was a trifling thane and he was being guaranteed all the riches and prosperity that goes along with being king! He began to enjoy this thought, and he silently wished the prophecy true. This may have been the initial voracious act, but it was far from the last.
On the other hand, it may have been beyond Macbeth’s control. The three witches were obvious perpetrators in the situation, presenting him with a tempting prophecy lacking any explanation. “All hail Macbeth! ...thane of Glamis! ... thane of Cawdor! … that shalt be king hereafter.” (1:3:50-53) These witches were predicting his future, and at first Macbeth seemed to consider the predictions to be impossible. “This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill…commencing a truth” (1:3:140-143) If feasible, he thinks there would be a frightening reality. “Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair…present fears are less than horrible imaginings…” (1:3:145-149) But it is as though Macbeth could not continue to doubt their predictions due to his own racing desires. They were forcing such a great idea into his head, and he could not suppress the temptation of one day being crowned. His emotions were being played with, not only by the witches but also by his wife, who made him feel cowardly when he decided against taking Duncan’s life. “Wouldst thou have that… And live a coward in thine own esteem…” (1:7:44-48) Both Lady Macbeth and the witches manipulated Macbeth into being unsatisfied with his position, and wanting more. In this way, he was far from innocent, but he was not exactly a tyrant.
There are, however, ways in which Macbeth seemed undeniably cruel. First of all, he committed the act of murder. With his own hands, in his right mind, he killed the king of Scotland. Not only did he slay him, he held the king’s loyal guards responsible, and supposedly murdered them out of rage. He seemed to feel little remorse after the incident, and upon his reign he became so paranoid that he had his best friend, Banquo, murdered because he knew of the witches’ prophecies. Soon after, he threw a banquet, creating an atmosphere of happiness. I think his intentions were to cover up the incident quickly so that remorse would not set in. He repeatedly does this throughout the story, and his cruel deeds only increase in number as his ego grows. “The castle of Macduff I will surprise… His wife, his babes… that trace him in his line” (4:1:65-68) This quote is an example of his unsympathetic nature. He is not concerned with whether they are innocent spouses or little guiltless babies, he will obliterate until he is satisfied. He sends his death orders out like Christmas cards, blinded by his wickedness and confidence.
Yet his bad nature can be justified to a certain extent. He was incredibly weak in the beginning. He would not have gone through with the murdering of Duncan if it was not for the pressure from his wife. He loved her dearly, and anything that she wished he would do for her. When he got nervous about any issue dealing with the rising of his position, his wife was there to feed him more filthy promises about how glorious their lives could be if he could just pull himself together. He would do it instantly, not only because she