THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, William Shakespeare

Essay by meaningfreakHigh School, 10th gradeA+, August 2004

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Shakespeare's tragedies frequently include major symbols that reveal the character's stage of internal transition from an esteemed hero to a despised villain. These plays beginning with the central character established at the top of hero cycle. It quickly becomes evident, however, that the character possesses a destructive flaw. As the plot progresses, this flaw magnifies and propels him further down the hero cycle. At last, his life is desiccated and he becomes the antithesis of the hero at the start of the play. Such a descent is clearly demonstrated in Shakespeare's Macbeth. The play commences by establishng Macbeth as the hero of Scotland. His valiant battles against the treacherous rebels gains him the respect and honour of his country. However, a prophecy awakens an 'o'er vaulting ambition' within Macbeth, a tragic flaw that provokes his descent down the hero cycle. Macbeth's ambition is manifested in the form of a 'dagger', which lures him to kill Duncan so that he can become King.

As Macbeth continues to descend, his mind becomes plagued with guilt in the form of 'scorpions' that torture him to confess and atone. However, Macbeth knows that he can no longer undo his unspeakable deeds, and that his only options are to continue killing, or confess and be killed. Hence, he persists with his plan to murder Banquo and his son in order to secure his position as King. Macbeth's ambition continues to kill his dignity, until finally, he has sunk to mindlessly slaughtering women and children. By killing the child, who is the model of innocence, truth, and morality, Macbeth demonstrates that he has at last destroyed his dignity. Now, Macbeth has reached the bottom of the hero cycle and become the antithesis of who he initially was. To depict Macbeth's descent from an outstanding warrior to...