Macbeth - From your studies of "Macbeth" show to what extent you think Shakespeare followed and built upon the classical tradition of dramatic tragedy.

Essay by Yourmumma April 2004

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In this essay I will be comparing the Shakespearian tragedy "Macbeth" to an example of Greek tragedy, "Oedipus Rex".

The fall of Macbeth is very different from that of Oedipus.

Macbeth's downfall is due to his own personal decisions but in Oedipus' case his downfall was due to nothing but fate and the will of the gods and so it was unavoidable as such. These downfalls are both different forms of tragic aspects. Macbeth causes his own downfall but Oedipus does not knowingly commit any real sins; the gods controlled him.

In Greek tragedy plot was always emphasized over character; everyone wore masks. These masks would seem to mask a person's character. This would make the character seem more universal. The mask-wearing protagonist lacks individual personality and character. This makes catharsis more relevant because the protagonist is not as individual but more universal; they could be anyone.

Macbeth is an individual person; he has no mask.

This makes catharsis seem more irrelevant because Macbeth is more of on individual than Greek protagonists and therefore the audience doesn't feel that Macbeth is a representation of humanity and themselves. Instead they would set him apart as an individual person and therefore catharsis wouldn't apply as much.

Greek tragedies all feature some kind of religious aspect. The gods bring about the protagonist's downfall in "Oedipus Rex". Yet Shakespeare's production of "Macbeth" is not religious. Macbeth isn't portrayed as being religious in any way. However, Oedipus strongly believed in the Greek gods and they carved out his fate as proclaimed by the oracle.

The Greeks had no understanding of the way that the world works compared to what we, or even Shakespeare, now know. Volcanos were blamed on the gods because the Greek's didn't know the cause.

We now have scientific explanations for...