Macbeth, One of Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedies

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

download word file, 5 pages 0.0

Downloaded 2914 times

'Macbeth' is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies. Unlike most other Shakespeare plays were there are a multiple amount of plots for the readers to follow, 'Macbeth' has one direct plot. The torture and anguish of a respected man who, in one moment of weakness, had his life ruined and changed from what could have been happy and joyful. Just through the simple convocation with three hags, his trail of deceit against the people he once fought for in wars and protected in risk of his own life.

The term tragedy is thought as a disastrous play when it actually only has to include a fallen hero. A tragedy play ('Macbeth' for example) has to have a person who was well respected and had high honour. A hero as most people would put it. This hero must have a flaw. Not a flaw like 'he is to kind' or 'he is to strong' it must be a fatal flaw.

In Macbeth's case his fatal flaw was his ambition. His desire to be the greatest. The flaw with his ambition though was that it was to strong. If he knew there was even a tiny chance he could do something, he would fight for it even if it killed him. This flaw must then lead our fallen hero into a spiral of evil and decay of his soul. He must suffer horribly through the pain he knew he brought on himself. The hero must weep and feel regret for his actions and eventually turn back to the honourable man he once was but die in the process. Only then will a true tragedy form out of a simple play. This is also how the audience feels sympathy for the hero. If the hero had just turned evil and stayed like that, there would be no sorrow for his passing. If the hero realised what he had done was wrong and was truly sorry for it, then that makes the audience realise that he was not really just a bad person, just mislead. This essay will discuss his character and will go into further detail of Macbeth later.

Macbeth is a tragic hero; a person of high rank who is brought to eventual ruin by a flaw in his character. Macbeth's tragic flaw is his ambition, which leads him to a series of bloody and increasingly indefensible acts. The most apparent flaw, and perhaps the most tragic in Macbeth's character, is his lack of patients and temperance. These shortcomings haunted Macbeth, causing him to let his overvaulting ambition rush fate, and hasten his doom.

In Act 1 scene 2, Macbeth is portrayed as a powerful, strong and loyal man. He is respected to the highest and is even shown as a relation to Duncan.

'Oh a valiant cousin, worthy gentlemen!' This shows Macbeth has also got a personal relationship with the man he kills. The shower of compliments begins to make the audience suspicious. Going back to Act 1 Scene 1 were the witches made the comment.

'Fair is foul and foul is fair.' Not only creates a paradox showing Macbeth as a servant of evil but also suggests that things in the play might not be what they seem. The first entrance of Macbeth in Act 1 Scene 3 confirms his 'so called' connection with the witches.

'I have not seen such a foul and fair a day.' This one quote is proof that Macbeth will eventually commit an evil deed. His reactions to the witch's greetings also showed that he thought of being king.

'Why do you startle to things that sound so fair.' This also shows that the witches have a better chance of manipulating Macbeth to their will. All the praise Macbeth received, the paradox and the reaction to the witches inevitably leads to his decay of soul.

For this story to be a true tragedy, Macbeth must die. But he must be good. If he isn't good before he dies, the audience would feel no sympathy for him. Macbeth must become the man he once was before he dies. An honourable man. A man that people would have respected if he had not died. He also must have suffered greatly during the play for the audience to have pity on him.

'I tire of the rising Sun.' this one quote summarises all of Macbeth's anguish and pain in one sentence. After realising he will never have true friends, loyal men and the respect of his country, he gave up caring. This only adds to the pity so you can see a glimpse of the man he once was. If this had not happened, 'Macbeth' would not have been a tragedy because of the sorrow. A tragic hero is a suffering hero.

All before the tragedy starts, Macbeth must be introduced. But Macbeth is not introduced until Act 1 Scene 3. The build up to this scene must be very tense and have a lot of suspense. For this to happen, Macbeth must be introduced by the begging actors as loyal, noble and respected. A great example of this is in Act 1 Scene 2 when the captain says; 'For brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name.' the image of a strong, courageous man comes to the mind of the audience. Although, in the same speech, the captain also give a bad image of Macbeth.

'Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chops, and fixed his head upon our battlements.' This sentence strikes horror into the audience, because they cannot believe such a good man can commit such a disgusting deed. This also symbolizes a more evil part of Macbeth. Act 1 Scene 1 also holds some truth to Macbeth's personality. This scene contains the witches but they only mention Macbeth once but this is enough to show that Macbeth has a connection with the witches.

'There to meet with Macbeth.' This connection to the witches still rises the point to the audience, is Macbeth good or evil. This constantly rises through the play until Macbeth is introduced and talks to the witches.

The combination of the influence of the witches and the influence of Lady Macbeth on Macbeth are what precipitate the tragedy. The witches' initial prophecies, where they address Macbeth with titles he doesn't have, influence Macbeth. The apparitions in the play also have an influence on Macbeth because of their ambiguous allure. When Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth's masculinity she influences him to kill Duncan. Even though Macbeth has doubts, Lady Macbeth convinces him to kill Duncan by calming his fears. Lady Macbeth wants to see her husband succeed and become king; she will stop at nothing to make that possible. The witches' and Lady Macbeth manipulate and evoke Macbeth to act the way he does in the play because he is susceptible to their influence. The witches' deceptive predictions give Macbeth and Lady Macbeth a false sense of what is possible. The witches do not only deceive Macbeth but their predictions tempt him to commit the murder of Duncan. From the moment that their eyes first met with Macbeth's, he is spell-bound. That meeting sways his destiny. The Weird Sisters are the ones who give Macbeth the impulse to commit the treasonous act. They are the supernatural beings who encourage Macbeth in his evil path of murder and deceit. But, as before, Lady Macbeth still played a large role in helping Macbeth committing the murder. By the time Macbeth got home he did not want to kill Duncan. This proves Lady Macbeths quote from Act Scene 5.

'I fear thy nature is too full o' th' milk of human kindness.' But the manipulation and words of Lady Macbeth and the witches are to much for Macbeth and he finally gives in.