Is Macbeth a Tragic Hero?: Introduction
In any classic play, there is at least one character which grabs reader’s attention and charms the reader till the end of the story. Apparently, this character development throughout the play attracts the reader and makes him drive attention to him. In his famous play Macbeth, Shakespeare successfully describes Macbeth to put him on center stage and capturing reader’s interest in him. Macbeth character changes because of rises and falls throughout all play. And at the end, Macbeth tragic hero stands up in front of us.
To fully understand the tragedy of this character, I have decided to conduct Macbeth analysis and show what and how surroundings and actions influenced on him.
Macbeth’s character starts in the play as respected and well-known by others Thane. Firstly, King Duncan fully trusts him. In Act I Scene II, King Duncan praises him for his courage on the battlefield, and this shows how Macbeth is respected. It is a great honor for Macbeth taking into account the fact that King Duncan found out about the Thane of Cawdor trading stem. Additionally, Macbeth is respected by his comrade in arms. To prove this, I can give an example. A wounded soldier comes to Kind Duncan from the battlefield and exclaims “For brave Macbeth- well he deserves that name” (I. ii. l. 18). Soon after this situation, Macbeth shows that he is noble and intelligent Thane because of his respect of King Duncan. This fact opens after when she blamed himself because he thought that he killed Duncan after he has heard the Malcolm is named to be the King. He felt horrible, and he swears never to do such things again. So it is clear that Macbeth begins the play as a noble and respected figure.
From the respected Lord Macbeth transforms into a despot King. The first piece of evident that Macbeth is a tyrant King is when he plots the murder of his son Fleance and Banquo. Macbeth is confining the murderers that Banquo has caused all their misfortune and annoyances. Additionally, Macbeth doesn’t inform Lady Macbeth about the killers, leaving these facts for him. It is essential to note that Macbeth is more worried about his kingship security, rather than the safety of Scotland, which is a definite evidence of that he was a tyrant King. It is unmasked by Lennox, when he states: “that is swift blessing/ May soon return to this our suffering country/ Under a hand accursed” (III. vi. l. 50-52).
Lennox hopes that MacDuff will come back and bring help with him. He hopes that MacDuff will heal the suffering country of Scotland. Lastly, his thoughts about McDuff’s family murdering are another evidence of Macbeth’s despotism. While, the first of two murders I have mentioned involved reflection, and inner emotions, Macbeth motif, the second one, Macduff’s family murdering, was more instant. Moreover, Macbeth would have killed anyone who is on his way.
Another key point is the difference between these two murders, first was done late night and Macbeth thought a lot, experienced different emotions, weighted everything and the second one took place during the day, with a rush and without any effects on Macbeth, no remorse at all. The author didn’t point out Macbeth guilt or anything similar. So we see that Macbeth’s character changed from generous Thane to a despot King. It is essential to remember; that Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth, took part in his tragic changes because she pushed him to follow his ambitions not looking on others’ aims and wills. And Macbeth ambition led him to the next stage of his personal tragedy.
And, from this juncture of despot King, Macbeth changes again. He changes to dysfunctional being, the tragedy of Macbeth starts. The biggest problem of Macbeth was his obsession with witchcraft and witches. This fact shows the reader that he is not mentally stable, he cannot do anything productive and thinks about prophesies instead of other things. Even knowing about the possibility to lose his army and that MacDuff is in Scotland and will get help from King Edward, Macbeth didn’t do anything to overcome these issues, and this led him to his death. Another evidence of Macbeth destruction we can see at the moment when Lady Macbeth died. When she passed away, Macbeth acted if nothing had happened; he looked like disturbed by this fact instead of sorrow or something similar. He even didn’t take the time to mourn her death.
Another proof of his dysfunctional being is that Macbeth goes to fight against Malcolm’s army. And after successful defeat of Young Siward, Macbeth says with triumph: “Thou wast born of women./ But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,/ Brandish’d by man that’s of a woman born”(V. vii. l.16-18). And holding the last of prophecies he believed in, being sure that Young Siwards died, Macbeth decides that he will die rising in arms and he has a chance to defeat MacDuff. He did such a conclusion after witches told him: “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff;/ Beware the Thane of Fife.” (IV. i. l. 77-78). As you see, Macbeth is under the influence of various psychological disorders and abnormalities in his acting and decisions.
In conclusion, it is evident what dramatic and tragic changes Macbeth character experienced and how they led him to an unfortunate death. The constant change of Macbeth’s temper, his thoughts and decisions maintain the reader’s interest to him and the play. This Macbeth character analysis shows how dramatically he changed. Is Macbeth a tragic hero? I cannot say for sure, his actions and ambitions led him to the tragedy, yet if he weighted things before he might probably bypass this all happened with him.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of the most obscure and known characters which has a tragic fate and showcases the way from courage respected person to the mad controlled by illusions insane.
- Shakespeare, W. and Wilders, J. (2004). Macbeth. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- The British Library. (2016). An introduction to Shakespearean Tragedy. [online] Available at: https://www.bl.uk/shakespeare/articles/an-introduction-to-shakespearean-tragedy [Accessed 7 Nov. 2016].
- Shanley, J. (2016). Macbeth: The Tragedy of Evil. [online] Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/373470. [Accessed 7 Nov. 2016].