Macbeth's Tragic Flaw

Essay by ShandowerHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 1996

download word file, 4 pages 4.4

Downloaded 111 times

Sometimes a tragic hero is created, not through his own villainy),

but rather through some flaw in him, he being one of those who are in high

station and good fortune, like Oedipus and Thyestes and the famous men of

such families as those.' (Poetics, Aristotle). Every great tragedy is

dominated by a protagonist who has within himself a tragic flaw, too much or

too little of one of Aristotle's twelve virtues. In Macbeth, by William

Shakespeare, Macbeth, a great Scottish general and thane of Glamis, has just

won an important battle, when he is told by three witches that he will become

thane of Cawdor and then king of Scotland. After Macbeth is given Cawdor by

King Duncan, he takes the witches words for truth and conspires against

Duncan with his wife. When Duncan comes to Macbeth's castle that night,

Macbeth kills him and takes the crown for himself after Duncan's sons flee

from Scotland.

Then Macbeth reigns for a while, has several people killed,

and is eventually slain by Macduff when he and Malcolm return leading the

armies of England. Often people read the play and automatically conclude

that Macbeth's tragic flaw is his ambition; that he is compelled to commit

so many acts of violence by his lust for power. However, by carefully

examining the first act, one can determine the defect in Macbeth's character

that creates his ambition; his true tragic flaw. Macbeth's tragic flaw is

not his ambition as most people believe, but rather his trust in the words of

the witches and in his wife's decisions.

At the beginning of the play Macbeth has no designs on the throne,

and he does not start plotting until his wife comes up with a plan. When

first faced with the witches' words, Macbeth expresses astonishment...