Macbeth Is Not A Tragic Hero Essay

As with most Shakespearean tragic heroes, there is no clear cut answer to this question, so a critic (or student) must make a decision where she/he will go with the argument.

To say that Macbeth is not an Aristotelian hero shortchanges a complete analysis of the character and the play.  There syands a strong argument that Macbeth does follow Artstotle's criteria for a tragic hero.  The hero must be of noble stature in some way, like a primce, king, or, yes, great military hero and powerful thane.  The hero should also not be perfect, thus, the "tragic flaw" inherent in his character - and we see this is Macbeth's ambition right from the start when Duncan names his son Malcolm as heir to the throne: "That is a step / On which I must fall down or else o'erleap, / For in my way it lies" (1.4.55-57).  This ambition blinds him from the Weird Sisters temptation to ruin his soul by suggesting that he would be King, and, as Banquo reminds Macbeth, that the "instruments of darkness tell us truths / [...] to betray's / In deepest consequence" (1.3.136-38).

Aristotle suggests the following formula for the tragic hero - that, from his tragic flaw, he makes what's translated as an "error in judgment" that leads to unintended consequences, downfall, and  death.  Macbeth, like all tragic heroes, is blinded by hubris, he cannot initially see (nor does he care to consider) the possible consequences of his mudering of Duncan.  He fulfills the applicable definitions of "hubris" - both the more modern "exhibition of pride or disregard for basic moral law," and the more classic Greek, "actions taken in order to shame the victim, thereby making oneself seem superior." (Think about the report of how Macbeth defeated Scotland's enemies). These consequences ensue immediately after Duncan's murder when Macbeth kills the King's guards (tpo cover up his crime) and when Malcolm and Donalbain leave Scotland, both suspicious of their father's death.

Aristotle also suggests that the tragic hero, before his death, faces an "anagnorisis," or "the point in the plot [...] at which the protagonist recognizes his [...] true identity or discovers the true nature of his or her own situation" ( This is NOT an admittance of a mistake - it is merely a recognition of his true situation.  For Macbeth, it's not until Macduff enters and tells Macbeth that "Macduff was from his mother's womb / Untimely ripped" (5.8.19-20).  We know how it ends.

Thus, a strong argument can be made that Macbeth does follow Aristotle's formula for a tragic hero.  Some critics will argue that Macbeth stands as a near-perfect tragic hero according to Aristotle's criteria.  All tragic heroes are influenced by something (in this case, the Weird Sisters and Lady Macbeth) - but, ultimately, the tragic hero makes the decision and commits the act that brings about his downfall.  It is Macbeth who goes into that room and kills Duncan, and the unintended consequences directly follow.

Is Macbeth A Tragic Hero Or A Tyrant? Essay

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Is Macbeth A Tragic Hero Or A Tyrant?

Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most emotive plays, is set in Scotland during the 11th Century and follows the downfall of a man who is led by temptation to mass murder and cruelty. Macbeth, at different stages in the play, demonstrates many of the characteristics of both an evil tyrant and a tragic hero. However, a tragic hero is defined as a great man who falls because of a fatal flaw and Macbeth bests fits this description. Therefore Macbeth fits the role of a tragic hero and not a tyrant.

In Aristotle's "Poeticus", an ancient Greek drama, the definition of a tragic hero includes several criteria. Firstly, the character must be important and his actions…show more content…

As well, his actions have so far affected many people, as he has saved Scotland from invasion and played a large part in a battle (another criteria of a tragic hero).

The other characteristic of a tragic hero is a flaw in the character. In Macbeth's case, it is his unnaturally large sense of ambition and pride, his imagination and insecurity as a man that contributes to his demise. His unnaturally large amount of ambition is even acknowledged by Macbeth in Act 1 Scene 7. "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself and falls on th'other..". This refers to Macbeth's motivation to kill Duncan. Macbeth's ambition is the central driving force for almost all of his actions in the play, and it is the witches who play on this ambition.

Macbeth's insecurity as man is another one of his character faults. Macbeth can "prove" his manliness on the battlefield easily, however Lady Macbeth's knowledge of Macbeth's lack in manliness in other areas allows her to easily manipulate Macbeth to kill the king. In Act 1 Scene 7 after Macbeth makes the tentative decision not to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth's manhood by stating, "When you durst do it, then you were a man". Lady Macbeth also offers another taunt in Act 3 Scene 4 after Macbeth's 'sight' of Banquo's ghost by asking "Are you a man?" to call for

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