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Is Macbeth a tragic hero?

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by Alex Trick on 1 June 2010

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Transcript of Is Macbeth a tragic hero?

Is MACBETH A TRAGIC HERO? Is he a man of noble stature? He's good, but not perfect? His downfall is his own fault? The punishment exceeds the crime? The tragic fall is not pure loss? There is some sort of catharsis? YES YES What's his flaw? His ambition. Ambition to become king leads Macbeth to kill Duncan. YES Why? Macbeth chose on his own accord to kill Duncan which led to his downfall. After killing Duncan he loses everything (see "The tragic fall is not pure loss?"). NO Why?
Crime: Macbeth kills Duncan,Banquo, and Macduff's family
Punishment: Macbeth is killed by Macduff
His crime involves killing many people so punishment of death is well deserved. WHY?
Macbeth is the Thane of Glamis, owns a castle (Inverness), and commands Duncan's military. Just look how noble those pants are... NO Why? Macbeth loses everything after killing Duncan: YES What is it? Macbeth is killed. Malcolm becomes king in the end. Peace and order is restored. Is this a tragic hero which I see before me? YES. Macbeth fulfills the majority (4 out of 6) of the tragic hero components. (That's supposed to look like a dagger...) Duncan refers to Macbeth and Banquo as "captains" (1.2.37) as in captains of his army. (a Scottish title of nobility) Macbeth says "I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition" (1.7.25-27). His "intent" is to kill Duncan. He is motivated to kill Duncan by his ambition (like a "spur / To prick the sides" of a horse motivates the horse to go faster). This quotation shows ambition is the driving factor in his decision to kill Duncan. Thus, his ambition is his fatal flaw. Macbeth says "I am settled, and bend up / Each corporal agent to this terrible feat" (1.7.92-93). The "terrible feat" is Duncan's murder, so Macbeth is saying he has decided to "bend each corporal agent", or exert all the power in his body, to kill Duncan. Macbeth, not someone else, decided for himself to kill Duncan and ruin his life. his mind: he sees visions of Banquo's ghost (3.4.61-62)
his reputation: called a "tyrant" (5.4.11) instead of "brave Macbeth" (1.2.18)
his wife: she "by self and violent hands, / Took off her life" (5.8.83-84)
his followers: "the tyrant's people on both sides do fight" (5.7.30)

his life: Macduff kills him Macduff says to Malcolm "Hail, king! For so thou art. Behold where stands / The usurper’s cursèd head. The time is free" (5.8.65-66). Macduff is saying that Malcolm is now king because "the usurper," Macbeth, is dead. "The time is free" means they are now free from Macbeth's tyranny and order is restored. By Alex Trick We know Macbeth is good on the inside because he regrets and feels guilty for killing Duncan: "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?" (2.2.78-79). Macbeth is stating that he can't get rid of the guilt ("blood") from his conscience.
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