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Macbeth as a tragic hero

Macbeth was a true Shakespearean tragic hero.


He had many noble qualities as well as
several tragic flaws. He was a courageous,
brave and good nobleman who was haunted by
superstition, moral cowardice and an
overwhelming ambition. The three points
which contribute greatly to Macbeth’s
degeneration are the prophecy which was told
to him by the witches, Lady Macbeth
influenced and manipulated Macbeth’s
judgment, and finally Macbeth’s long time
ambition which drove his desire to be king.
Although he was so far courageous and brave
and he is seen as the hero at the beginning
of the play, his sky high ambition causes his
damnation. And ultimately he becomes a
tragic hero.

Macbeth was a courageous and strong nobleman.


He and Banquo were leaders of King Duncan's
army. His personal powers and strength as a
general won him the battle as described by
the captain,
"But all's too weak:/For brave Macbeth --
well he deserved that name – /Disdaining
fortune, with his brandished steel,/Which
smoked with bloody execution,/Like valor's
minion carved out his passage/Till he faced
the slave;".(I,2)Macbeth was even
undiscouraged when he was attacked by the
King of Norway, "assisted by that most
disloyal traitor, the thane of Cawdor. "Lady
Macbeth convinced her husband to murder
Duncan by putting his manhood and courage at
stake, "When you durst do it, then you were
a man;/And to be more than what you were, you
would be so much more the man" (I,7 )As
Macbeth started degrading he lost some
bravery (IV, 1, "That I may tell pale-hearted
fear it lies"). In his fight with Macduff,
some of his old courage and strength returned.

Macbeth could be brave when it came to action


but when he started thinking he would
hesitate and would have to be urged into
action by his wife or by the sense of security
that he obtained from the prophecies of the
supernatural. He changed his mind five times
before murdering Duncan. The witches'
prophecy that he would be king made him
decide to leave it to "chance," but Duncan's
announcement that Malcolm was to be his heir
made Macbeth realize that he would have to
take a course of action for the prophecies
to come true. He changed his mind again
before he reached home until his wife
persuaded him that it could be done safely.
Then he changed his mind again before finally
being forced by Lady Macbeth to make up his
mind to commit the murder. Macbeth also did
not fear the moral consequences of his crimes
(I,7, "We'd jump the life to come"). After
the murder of Duncan, Macbeth sinks into
continuous moral degradation. He was in a
savage frenzy when he planned the murder of
Banquo and Macduff's family.

Macbeth had great ambition and wished to


stand well with the world. He had absolutely
no feelings for others and he only cared
about what others would think of him. The
witches' prophecies only encouraged this
ambition to be king. The witches who
symbolized Macbeth's evil ambitions put his
thoughts into actual words. The idea of
murder had already occurred to him,"My
thought, whose murder yet is but
fantastical," (I,3). Macbeth himself
acknowledged his "vaulting ambition" that
would drive him to murder after Duncan evaded
fate (I,3, "If chance will have me King,
why,/ Chance may crown me") by announcing
Malcolm as his Successor. And he himself
announces his “black and deep desires” to
become king.

The idea of killing Duncan first came from


Macbeth. Macbeth listened to the witches’
prophecies that said he would become King.
Macbeth did not want to wait any longer and
he thought the only way to become King was
to kill the present King; Duncan. Macbeth
later told Lady Macbeth about this and she
just wanted to help him and do whatever she
could for him, so that he would be happy and
be King. She was also excited about becoming
a Queen so she pushed Macbeth forward and did
not let him back down from doing what he said
he'd do. Macbeth had a good chance of
becoming King if Duncan was out of the
picture, so Lady Macbeth helped stage a plan
so that Macbeth could kill him without being
caught.

Macbeth's powerful imagination made him


already victim to superstition. It was his
superstition that made him so
unquestioningly the promises of the
apparitions and rest so easily assured. It
was all his superstitions that made him cling
to his belief in these promises when
circumstances became difficult. His
imagination was so strong that when it was
left to roam uncontrolled his "function/ Is
smother'd in surmise." This was seen in the
"dagger" scene and in the panic which Macbeth
suffers after the murder of Duncan. This was
also seen with Banquo's ghost at the banquet.

Macbeth loved his wife very much. At the


beginning of the play she participated
avidly in his life and he informed her of
everything that was going on (for example he
sent her a letter telling her of the witches'
prophecies). He widely accepted her advice
and ideas and they were both avid partners
in the murder of Duncan. Macbeth was very
affectionate with his wife and when he was
speaking to her he often used words of
endearment (“Dearest love," "Dearest
chuck" and "Sweet remembrancer"). At the end,
he was so weary from everything that was
going on that when he received the news of
his wife's death he accepted it with only a
yearning resignation. Macbeth's whole story
after Duncan's murder was one of continuous
character deterioration. Once he had begun
his life of crime he became further and
further detached from his wife to the point
where she had lost all control over him. He
had become so accustomed to violence that he
did not hesitate at all in the planning of
Banquo and Fleance's murder ("The very
firstling of my heart shall be/ The
Macbeth started as a courageous and brave
general who loved his wife very much. But
because of the faults that must accompany
every tragic hero, he was led to his ruin by
his overwhelming ambition, superstition and
moral cowardice. Macbeth changed from a
noble hailed as the savior of his country,
a "valiant cousin," a "worthy gentleman," to
a man of boundless cruelty. So we can say that
hi s sky high ambition causeshis damnation
Character analysis of Lady Macbeth: The
fourth witch or a loving wife
In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is made
to act as a catalyst in Lord Macbeth's evil doings.
She has definitely the greatest ambition, supremacy
of will, cruelty and dissimulation among
Shakespearean heroines. She obviously does not
lack courage. She has a paucity of intellect. She
shows enormous self-control, but very little skill. To
Bradley, the laying of the bloody daggers on the
pillows of the grooms, as if they were determined to
advertise their guilt, was a mistake on her part,
which can be explained only to her lack of intellect.
In comparison with her husband, she appears
extremely dull.
Even though Macbeth is generally the one to
have the final say in the many killings that take place
in the play, Lady Macbeth plays the role of a villain
alongside him. If Macbeth frets over something she
has instructed him to do, she mocks him by saying
that he would be less of a man if he does not follow
their plan. She gives Macbeth a short lecture in
deceptiveness when they are planning to kill king
Duncan. She also prepared the daggers for Macbeth
in order to kill Duncan. Though her husband was
still having doubts, she was, in the most literal sense,
ready to go in for the murder.
Throughout the play and leading up to her
eventual suicide, Lady Macbeth slowly weakens. Yet,
in the beginning of the play, she acts as if she is
unstoppable. When Macbeth has his doubts and
fears about murdering the king, Lady Macbeth
chastises him; calling him everything from a coward
to a helpless baby. She even offers to do it herself,
possibly to make Macbeth feel that he is even more
cowardly because a woman is offering to do his job.
This pushes Macbeth to kill, though these are the
actions that will eventually lead to both of their
demises later in the play. Macbeth tries to convince
Lady Macbeth, as well as himself, that she is wrong.
However, Macbeth does not seem to fully convince
her, because he is still mocked by his wife. Whether
he failed to convince himself or to convince his lady
is irrelevant; he goes through with the murder
anyhow.
Not only does Lady Macbeth push her husband
to do things he does not want to, but also she
informs him that his face is too easy to read. Of
course, she does not want her husband or herself to
get caught, so she gives him advice in the area of
deceptiveness-
''...look like the innocent flower, But be
the serpent under't.
Even before that early point in the play, Lady
Macbeth has already demonstrated that she is
two-faced. When Duncan first arrives at the castle,
Lady Macbeth acts as a welcome hostess, when in
reality she has different plans for Duncan.
Usually, though she has to nudge her husband a
bit before he takes action, Macbeth is relatively
obedient. Lady Macbeth seems to realize that her
husband probably will not go through with the
murder of Duncan until she pushes him to the point
of no return, so she prepares everything in advance.
All Macbeth has to do for his part in the murder is
actually kill Duncan: Lady Macbeth sets out the
daggers and gives the guards enough alcohol so that
they pass out. She was so eager to have Duncan dead
that she almost killed him herself-
“...Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done't”

She lacks Macbeth's imagination. This makes


her ideal for prompt action, but is a flop for longer
strategy. She is unable to see the impact of Duncan's
murder, and is unable to fully understand Macbeth's
inward consequence after the murder. She would
have never urged him to murder Duncan if she
realised the monster her husband would become.
This lack of imagination proves fatal to her. Her
facile realism ''a little water clears us of this
deed'' soon changes to despair as she utters-
''What, will these hands, ne'er be
clean?''
...
''All the perfumes of Arabia will not
sweeten this little hand.''
This is the exact opposite of the reaction of murder
on Macbeth, who becomes a brute.
The change in her state of mind is inevitable.
When the hideousness of murder pricks her
consciousness, her nature begins to sink. She
becomes a somnambulist, because of her inner guilt.
The sinking of Lady Macbeth's nature brings pathos
mingled with awe. The energetic, supremely willed
woman is now submissive and listless.
Lady Macbeth stands apart among
Shakespearean heroines in the intensity and
perplexity of interest that she arises. She has a
strange kind of fascination of character. For
someone so fragile, she has an indomitable will. As a
critic wrote- ''Lady Macbeth was a lady, beautiful
and delicate, whose one vivid passion proves that
her organization was instinct with nerve-force.''
Considering this critical estimate, it is evident that
she was not a fiend, but a woman who believes that
her husband is the greatest enough in the world, fit
enough to be king, it is not a fiendish trait, though
its execution may be abhorring to our sensibilities.