Is Macbeth a Traditional Tragic Hero Essay Sample
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- Category: Hero
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Is Macbeth a Traditional Tragic Hero Essay Sample
This essay will help me to decide whether Macbeth was a traditional tragic hero or not. For Macbeth to be classified as a tragic hero he has to be of noble birth, be brave, have a fatal flaw, cause suffering to others and the audience should feel a loss at his death.
For Macbeth to be of a noble birth he has to be part of the royal family.
Macbeth also has to be a brave soldier and protect his country if he is a tragic hero.
The third characteristic is a fatal flaw in his personality, which drives Macbeth to his death.
Macbeth has to make others suffer. He causes suffering to many people throughout the play.
The audience should feel a little upset when Macbeth dies, if he has this final quality as well as all the rest he is a traditional tragic hero.
The play “Macbeth”, is about a Scottish noble and how he rose to be King of Scotland and then fell after being deserted by his army and was murdered.
Macbeths fits the first quality of a traditional tragic hero he was born in a royal family, noble birth
In this extract Duncan addresses Macbeth as,
“O valiant cousin,” (I II 24)
This means Macbeth is s a cousin of the King and therefor must be royal.
In this quote the witches refer to Macbeth as the Thane of Glamis.
“Hail Macbeth, Thane of Glamis.” (I III 48)
This also shows how else Macbeth is of noble birth because he was given his title by his father. A Thane is a Scottish version of a Lord so Macbeth is part of the royal family.
Macbeth is also noble in another way. The next quote tells us that he is a noble person.
“What he hath lost, Noble Macbeth hath won,” (I II 67)
According to Duncan, Macbeth is noble and loyal to his King and to his country.
The second characteristic a traditional tragic hero must have is he has to be a brave soldier this means he must fight and protect his country
In the captains speech there are many phrases referring to Macbeth as brave.
“For brave Macbeth- well he deserves that name.”
“With his banished steel, this smoked with bloody execution.”
This describes Macbeth’s sword which was ‘smoked’ with all the blood from the peoples he had killed during the last battle.
“He unseamed him from the nave to the chops, and fixed his head upon our battlements. This is how Macbeth killed someone to protect his country. He opened up the victims’ body, chopped his head of and stuck it onto the castle battlements to warn other enemies about what would happen to them.
All the above extracts show that Macbeth is very brave, but he is also very violent, especially in battles if it means saving his country.
The other argument is that Macbeth could just be putting on a act, so as to look brave even though he is a coward inside.
The next two quote shows Macbeth’s cowardliness
“We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place.”
Lady Macbeth is telling Macbeth to stop being a coward and get some courage.
“I am settled”
Macbeth gives in to his wife and kills Duncan. If Macbeth was really brave he wouldn’t have listened to her.
This is another example of Macbeth’s cowardliness.
“When Duncan is asleep”
Macbeth plans too kill Duncan in his sleep. No real brave soldier would kill an old man in his sleep when he cannot defend himself.
“Hear it not Duncan for it is a knell which summons thee to heaven or to hell,”
Macbeth doesn’t want Duncan to wake up since Macbeth is ready to kill him. Someone who was brave wouldn’t have cared about him waking up because they would have been brave enough to fight with Duncan face to face.
I think the answer to the question is Macbeth brave or is he a coward is that he is brave. This is because near to the end of the play he went out to fight.
“And wish th’estate o’ th’ world were now undone.
Ring the alarum bell! Blow wind, come wrack,
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.”
In this part of the play Macbeth is still planning to put up a fight to keep his place as King of Scotland. He has just found out Lady Macbeth has died, and most of his soldiers and nobles have left him to join the English side. Still he decided to fight even though he had nothing left in life; I think it is a sign of bravery.
I finish this section with the fact that Macbeth is brave, even though he may sometimes be mislead by Lady Macbeth. Macbeth is brave and therefore has the second quality a person needs to be a traditional tragic hero.
All traditional tragic heroes need to have one fatal flaw, which in the end is the main cause of their death.
We know that Macbeth’s fatal flaw is his ambition.
“Vaulting ambition, which o’er leaps itself” (I IV 17-20)
Macbeth says himself that it is ambition, which drives him on, and without it he wouldn’t have wanted to be king. He would have been happy to stay Thane of Glamis.
When Macbeth was told he would be king by the three witches he let his ambition take control and he killed Duncan. This first murder led to many others. He had to keep killing people so he would be able to stay King.
It all started of with just one comment made by the witches,
“All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King here after.” (I III 50)
If Macbeth hadn’t been told this he may never have killed Duncan and would have had nothing to aim for. It was because he knew this comment he believed he could be King and he would do everything he could to get there.
Near the end of the play Macbeth pays another visit to these three witches and is shown three things. After seeing he became even more ambition since he believed he was invincible. And would stay king.
“Laugh to scorn the power of a man,
For none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.”
The tings that the witches said says that no man who is born of woman can kill Macbeth.
Another tells Macbeth that he cannot be killed till Birnam wood moves to Dunsinane. Macbeth grows even more confidant and laughs as he says.
“Who can impress the forest, bid the tree unfix
His earthbound root? Sweet bodiments, good!” (IV I 95-6)
He asks who would be able to tell the wood to take its roots out of the ground and walk towards Dunsinane. It makes him think that it is a completely impossible thing to do.
Unfortunately for Macbeth the witches have twisted the truth so it seemed impossible for Macbeth to die, but in the end all the things the witches said come true in ways you wouldn’t expect.
The other side to this story is that Macbeth may have been influenced into doing the terrible things he did by his wife and the witches.
Hecate the head of the witches outlines this point.
“And, which is worse, all you have done
Hath been for wayward son,
Spiteful and wrateful, who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
She says Macbeth isn’t evil but does things for himself.
Lady Macbeth had convinced Macbeth to kill Duncan to prove that he loved her.
“From this time such I account thy love.
Art thou afeared.
She tells him to kill Duncan to show he loves her and if he won’t it meant he didn’t love her. She was almost blackmailing him into killing Duncan.”
I think Macbeth is very ambitious with or without his wife, and he admits his fault himself.
“I have no spur
To prickle the sides of my intent, but only
He says that his ambition is the only thing that keeps him going.
Even without Lady Macbeth He was ambitious, but she made him carry out his ambitions and the witches gave him something to work towards. He fits this quality because without his ambition he would never have gone out to fight at the end and he would have never murdered Duncan.
Macbeth has the third quality of a traditional tragic hero, his fatal flaw.
Tragic heroes need to cause suffering to others. Macbeth had made many people suffer; the first of these would be King Duncan.
” Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”
The old man is Duncan; he must have suffered a lot because according to the sentence he must have been stabbed quite a few times to have bled so much.
Another person Macbeth caused suffering to would be Banquo.
“Let it come down. They assault Banquo]
Three murderers ambush Banquo and his son Fleance in the forest. Banquo is killed but Fleance escapes. Macbeth had ordered for Banquo to be killed.
Macbeth is told what happened to Banquo by one of the murderers.
“My Lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him
After committing the murder, the murderer tells Macbeth that he cut Banquo’s throat and that he is now dead.
He caused suffering to all of Macduff’s family and subjects.
“The Thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?”
Lady Macbeth said this while she was sleep walking. Macbeth had ordered for Macduff’s family to be punished for his disloyalty. He thought that by murdering Macduff’s family, Macduff himself would be punished and he was right, but it gave him more of a reason to kill Macbeth.
Malcolm and Donnalblain had to cope with the loss of their father King Duncan and they escaped to England incase someone tried to kill them. Fleance had to cope with the murder of his father and even though we don’t know what happened to him after they were ambushed, he must have suffered a lot.
Finally, Macbeth had caused suffering to Scotland as a whole.
“His message ere he come, that a swift blessing
May soon return to this our suffering country
Under a hand accursed.” (III VI 47-9)
This sentence is referring to Scotland as a suffering country under the rule of Macbeth who they believe is cursed. As soon as Macduff gets back to Scotland with the English army the country will be blessed and return to normal.
You could also say he caused suffering top Lady Macbeth since the guilt she had because of the murder of Duncan made her commit suicide.
Macbeth did definitely cause suffering to others so he has the fourth characteristic of a traditional tragic hero.
For a character in a play to be a traditional tragic hero they need to create a sense of loss when they die.
My personal opinion is that Macbeth could have been a good King and I did feel a sense of loss when he died. If he hadn’t killed Duncan and had found another path to be king he would have survived and would have been a great king.
He was brave, noble and ambitious. If he hadn’t been over ambitious he wouldn’t have felt the need to become king straight away, but he did and Lady Macbeth used Macbeth’s ambition and his love for her to make him kill Duncan. Without his wife pushing him to the edge Macbeth wouldn’t have been such an evil person. Lady Macbeth wanted to be Queen of Scotland. Even though she had some influence over Macbeths’ actions there were many other people who contributed to Macbeths’ wrong doings.
Another event that may have caused his death is when he was told he would be king. If the witches had never met him he would never have known he would be king and wouldn’t have had anything to aim for and that meant he wouldn’t have killed Duncan, and he wouldn’t be dead now.
I felt sorry for him because it wasn’t his fault. Many people led him to kill Duncan and if his wife hadn’t manipulated and tricked him into ‘killing’ Duncan when he had second thoughts nothing would have gone wrong. In my view all the events in this play are due to Lady Macbeth’s persuading Macbeth and the misleading witches.
Near to the end of the play I began to feel Scotland needed a new king and Macbeth should be overthrown because it felt wrong for him to be king by murdering everyone. He had also become very bloodthirsty and needed to be stopped. If someone had known earlier Macbeth could have been saved, but he did in the end kill people for the love of his wife and I did feel sorry for him so I think he fits the last quality of a traditional tragic hero.
I conclude this essay with the fact that Macbeth is a traditional tragic hero. Firstly he is brave, whether it’s to protect his country or to protect himself and he fought right to the end. He was also noble to his king and country before the witches poisoned his mind; he was related to Duncan, which meant he was of noble birth. He had his fatal flaw ambition, without it he wouldn’t have caused all the trouble he did, he caused suffering to many people and finally I felt a sense of loss when he died.
In my opinion Macbeth has all the qualities a character needs to be a traditional tragic hero. After looking through the book and researching the given task I have decided that Macbeth is a traditional tragic hero.