"Macbeth", Not A Tragic Hero: This Paper Was Written To Expose The Misconception That Macbeth Is A Tragic Hero When In Fact He Is Not

936 words - 4 pages

The definition of a classical tragic hero is defined by Aristotle in The Poetics as "A man slightly better than most who falls from a high to a low position due to a hamartia. His fall is cathartic, evoking in the audience the feelings of fear and pity." Macbeth violates all three of these standards. Macbeth is not the only man slightly better than others, he rises in position instead of falling, his fall is not entirely his own fault, and does not evoke that much pity from the audience.Macbeth starts out at the beginning of the play as a general in King Duncan's army and a distant relation of the king. He distinguishes himself as a fierce warrior but not as a great man or military ...view middle of the document...

Then there is the problem of Macbeth's hammartia. Macbeth's hammartia seems to be his ambition to acquire and keep power, but this is not totally clear until well into the play. At the beginning his ambition is sparked by the witches and fed by his wife, Lady Macbeth, so his hammartia is not entirely his fault. (Act I, Scenes 3 &7) He seems to genuinely be adverse to killing Duncan but his wife pushes him into it, this eventually brings about his downfall making it not entirely his own fault. This makes him seem sort of helplessly pushed toward his fate by outside forces which is something that is not part of the tradition of tragic heroes. At the end when he becomes desensitized to killing and is intent on keeping his power, he speeds up his own downfall, but Macbeth does not initiate the chain of events that lead up to his downfall by himself. This violates the standard of the hero falling through a fault of his own unassisted by fate or outside forces.Macbeth is also helped along towards his downfall by the witches. They show Macbeth deceptive imagery and tell him half truths that encourage him to further his ambitions. (Act I, Scene 3; Act IV, Scene I) Along with Lady Macbeth, the witches help fan the flames of Macbeth's hammartia. This is another outside force exerting influence on the "tragic hero's" fate. This also breaks the standard of the hero falling because of his own flaw and not due to outside forces.The final way that Macbeth breaks the tragic...

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