You are on page 1of 3

Suhagia 1 Krishna Suhagia Dr.

Tilley AP English Literature 4 October 2011 Macbeth: Tragic Hero with a Tragic Flaw Aristotle, the Greek playwright, was the first to define a tragedy. He said it was a story in which the protagonist (tragic hero) goes from fortunate to unfortunate circumstances because of the collaboration of fate and the protagonists tragic flaw, a character defect that is the main cause of a tragic heros downfall. Shakespeare has employed the definition of tragedy in many of his plays; he has also made many of his characters tragic heroes with their own deleterious flaws. In Macbeth, one of Shakespeares most known tragedies, the tragic heros, in this case Macbeths, flaw leads to his gruesome death at the end of the play. Macbeth is character who has many flaws, but the only a select few are considered as his tragic flaw his lack of selfassurance and his weakness to be easily persuaded by other characters in the play. Despite being ambitious, Macbeth falls into the hands of temptation and other people too quickly. One character who has a major influence on Macbeth throughout the play is Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is Macbeths backbone for a certain period in the drama. For example, when Macbeth is plotting his first act of evil killing King Duncan Lady Macbeth fears what a few lines in the play later become true yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness (I.v.17-19). Lady Macbeth thinks that Macbeth is too good to act on impulse by killing Duncan. Macbeth fears failure and he is hesitant to kill without a reason; King Duncan had not done anything but praise him. After hearing this Lady Macbeth continues to persuade him that if he is confident in himself then they will not fail as

Suhagia 2 shown when she says, We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we'll not fail (I.vii. 59-61). As much as Macbeth wants to be King, Lady Macbeth wants the same power and she will go to the extent of persuading her husband to murder King Duncan to get what she wants. The sad part is that Macbeth does not have even a sliver of a backbone to tell his wife that she is wrong and that if fate allows it then they will not only receive but also deserve what they want. Another character or group of characters, which induce Macbeth to take the actions that he does, is the three witches or the weird sisters as Macbeth calls them. There are two instances where the witches prophecies have the most impact on Macbeth. The first is when the witches greet Macbeth as his original and then future titles, they say, All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis! (First Witch); All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! (Second Witch); All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter! (Third Witch) (I.iii.50-53). At the time that the witches say this, Macbeth has not been named either of the latter two titles so he is incredulous and does not believe the witches. However, when the witches leave the scene, Duncan names Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor. As he realizes that the witches prophecies are real, Macbeths first thought is of murdering the current king, King Duncan, so that he could become king himself. The witches prophecies have caused a reaction in him that otherwise would not have occurred. The prophecies did not directly tell him that he will murder the current king, but the seed the witches planted in Macbeths head by telling him that he will be king persuades Macbeth to kill. The second example of when the witches cause Macbeth to take action is in act four, scene one where Macbeth goes to see the witches to find out his future. The witches send him three apparitions- a decapitated head, a bloody child, and a crowned child each that tell him something different. The prophecy from the first apparition is the one that

Suhagia 3 persuades Macbeth to commit another act of evil. The first apparition exclaims, Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough (IV.i.7172). This prophecy causes Macbeth to want to kill MacDuff; he does not want MacDuff to get in the way of his path to the crown, so he is going to kill him like he killed King Duncan. However, MacDuff has gone to England, so instead Macbeth chooses to kill Lady MacDuff and MacDuffs children. Again the witches did not directly tell Macbeth to kill MacDuff, but what they did tell him through the apparitions causes Macbeth to think about murder once again. As shown by these two examples Macbeth is easily tempted and even the slightest hint of gaining power or someone getting in his way will persuade him to do the most immoral acts. Macbeth is an ambitious man, but the doubt he has on himself and his fate proves to be an obstacle to get what he desires. A prime example of this is when Macbeth is about to kill King Duncan, but then he starts what is called a soliloquy. He considers the pros and cons and the possible consequences of killing the king even though he is only a few steps from where the king is sleeping. Point blank, Macbeth doubts his abilities. Macbeth wants the power of becoming king and decides to act according to what he wants, but his thoughts and actions do not correlate. Macbeths acts, which are committed by persuasion, support the idea of becoming king and removing everyone that gets in his path, while his mind says is not confident and sure of committing the crimes. Even though he is easily persuaded by others, he still doubts his ability to commit those actions. This is what leads to his downfall at the end of the play. At the end Macbeth is both mentally and physically is drained. He does not have control of his own life and he gives up right before his death, essentially saying that life is endless circle signifying nothing. His tragic flaw of being easily persuaded and lack of confidence is what leads him to give his final speech.