Tragedy by William Shakespeare Essay

Usually we stereotype a tragic play or story as a serious drama with an unhappy events or a sad ending but Shakespeare has put a new concept of the original tragic hero. He created a character called Macbeth, Macbeth is a tragic hero. To be a tragic hero you must be a man of high status which is rectified by a combination of fate and destiny, his own mistakes and hermatia. His character is that of a bold, brave, ‘benign’ warrior. He is portrayed as a character that is thoroughly liked all over Scotland however as the play develops Macbeths morals seem to evaporate leaving an evil man that is obsessed by power. He achieves his high status by being cousin of the king Duncan and being popular. These qualities are pure yet they are the base of his decent. Macbeths own mistakes start to cause a chain reaction of terrible events.

Macbeth is arrogant he says to Lady Macbeth; “Be innocent of the knowledge dearest chuck,” Macbeths begins to think that he knows better than his wife who originally put in him this position of greed and selfishness. Macbeth becomes cursed by his “Vaulting ambition” which pushes him to kill his best friend and what would have been his only friend if he had spared his life. He kills the king immediately followed by two innocent guards. The most horrific murder in the play is the murder of Macduffs wife and three children. This shows that Macbeth is definitely evil he uses harsh justice on a family that is in no real danger by Macbeths power. It is emotive it begins to make you think how the people must have lived in fear and what a terrible time to be alive if you were associated with Macbeth. He was a dictator he was a ruler who was unconstrained by law.

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Macbeth shows his arrogance again through a combination of his soliloquy where he tells the audience that because Duncan is a perfect king and he does nothing to hurt anyone that he is just waiting to be killed and Macbeth wants to be first. Secondly Macbeth has convinced himself that he is immortal. This is because the witches played a trick with his mind and told him a riddle which Macbeth foolishly didn’t understand or contemplate. “The power of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth”. Here the witches tell Macbeth that no man born or woman can kill him or even harm him. He was fooled again, when the witches call to Macbeth “Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill Shall come against him.” He thinks that he can not be harmed.

Macbeth thought that what the witches said was irrelevant, he did not listen so he thinks he is immortal. All of the things above show that Macbeth is achieving a higher status over Lady Macbeth and beginning to subconsciously control her and her thoughts. The character of Macbeth strikes people so much because he was not a bad person at the beginning of the play but changes so dramatically. When Macbeth was a heroic character he fought many battles but the ending of one was the most important and the change of direction in his life. Macbeth was returning home after winning a battle when he stopped and made a fatal mistake he listened to the lowest status of being; The three witches. He let there prophecy torment him, Macbeth didn’t have to listen to the witches but as soon as they saw him they started to chant “All hail Macbeth! Hail to thee thane of Cawdor! All hail, that shalt be king hereafter!” Shortly after hearing this Macbeth was made thane of cawdor.

This made him want to be king more that ever. Macbeth then killed Duncan the rightful king of Scotland. Macbeth took the crown making the witches prophecy come true. The witches create an image if chaoses as they chant an incantation like they are reciting a spell. “when shall we meet again in thunder lightning or in rain?” The witches are stereotyped by Shakespeare; he does this by associating the common thought of ugly witches covered in warts and the terrific whether conditions they describe. The witches make out that they have to meet outside which leads you to think that they can only feel safe outside and unsafe inside. This subverts the knowledge of safety. The witches try to make everything about the future seem bad and to compound this there are three witches. The number three is usually associated with good luck but there the number three symptomatic of their desire to make everything “fair” into “foul” and “foul” into “fair” so now the number three represents evil.

Macbeth’s high status excludes him from consorting with the lower members of society. It is not natural order. The fact that Macbeth speaks or even acknowledged the witches is a bad omen. The witches think that one day things will be the way they think they should be. “fair is foul and foul is fair” The witches believe that the future is written in the stars and they think that this is going to happen. This also shows the witches ‘hubris’ by wanting to take Macbeth evil and transforming him into the worst. Macbeth has several fatal flaws the first of which is his “volting ambition”. He is also very greedy and can be easily suggestible. He abdicates responsibility and has a addiction to power. However Macbeths main fatal flaw is his guilty conscience.

At the beginning of the play he thinks that the blood of his king has stained his hands forever which means that he thins that he will never get rid of the guilt. “will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hands?” Macbeth didn’t want to kill Duncan yet he is easily suggestible he only acted on his wife’s orders he did not take into account what he wanted to do. Straight after he commits the crime he punishes himself. “sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep,” Macbeth has murdered the king he was so loyal to and is feeling some regret. He tells himself that he will never sleep again. This may be the fear of some one wanting to kill him in his sleep or he really is punishing himself. From the moment Macbeth killed king Duncan he started his decent he demoted himself to a servant of the devil. “when? now As I decended?” Shakespeare sets out the script so you visualise Macbeth walking down the steps from earth to hell.

In summary in the play Macbeth is showing sighs of being evil he has not dropped all his morals. He is obsessed with power, and he will do anything to achieve more. When Lady Macbeth reflects on what they have sacrificed to get into their present position but they are both as content as they imagined. Macbeth still feels threatened as he becomes more paranoid. He proves this by brutally killing his best friend and partner in battle. To make this worse he tries to kill his son who has done nothing to give Macbeth a motive.

The witches have done this for Fleance, In their prophecy they told Macbeth that Banquo that they would be father to a line of kings. Macbeth does express his fears about banquo and fleance in a soliloquy. Instead of sorting his problems out by ignoring the witches he orders two murderers to kill them and then sends a third to ensure his plans will work. When the murders return to Macbeth with the news of Fleance`s escape he is appalled and claims that he Will be ill unless they both are dead “grapples you to the heart but sickly in his life, which in his death were perfect” here Macbeth explains to the murderers that although his health is poor while he is alive it would be perfect if they both were dead. This is an example of Macbeth abdicating his responsibility.


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