Is Macbeth the tragic hero of the play 'Macbeth?' This question may seem to be redundant; however, not all of Shakespeare's Tragedies are named after their tragic heroes. For example, Julius Caesar is not the tragic hero of 'Julius Caesar.' A tragic hero must conform to a set of characteristics which evolved all the way from ancient to medieval times. Macbeth conforms to these characteristics and is the tragic hero of 'Macbeth.'
The death of an ordinary person in Medieval times was not considered tragic. This idea was based on the notion of 'fall'. If a peasant died, his death meant very little because he had not far to fall. In other words, a peasant did not have much of a life to lose. However, if a king or noble were to die, his death would be a very long fall, since to the Medieval mind, he had a great deal to lose.
Macbeth is a very important person. He is a cousin to the king of Scotland. He is the highest ranking noble, the thane of Cawdor and Glamis, and a general of the Scottish army. He also becomes the king of Scotland later in the play. Despite his status, he has a character defect.
A tragic hero must have a character flaw. This character flaw causes him to make an error in judgment, 'a mistaken act,' which leads to his downfall. Because Macbeth is ambitious, he wants to become king. In order to take over the throne, he kills Duncan, and thus commits his terrible crime, and eventually is punished.
The tragic hero must deserve his fate. He must not simply make a mistake, like stepping off a curb in front of a moving vehicle. He must commit some terrible crime for which he is punished. People of...