Macbeth: A Tragic Hero In Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Macbeth is a classic Shakespearean play which outlines the rise and eventual fall of a general in Scotland due to his own actions and intentions. The play looks at Macbeth and his path through the royal hierarchy. Ultimately, the path chosen is not the wisest and leads to his drastic demise. A tragic hero is a common element within Shakespearean plays which is a highly esteemed/prosperous main character who falls into misfortune on account of his mistake(s) according to Aristotle. Macbeth accurately demonstrates the specific characteristics of hubris, anagnorisis, and peripeteia. Therefore, Macbeth is considered a tragic hero. Firstly, one of the characteristics of a tragic hero Macbeth demonstrates is hubris. Hubris is when a hero makes a …show more content…
Anagnorisis is when a hero realizes his mistake after certain misfortune. The first time Macbeth displays the characteristic of anagnorisis is immediately after killing Duncan. Macbeth is in recognition of his mistake and regrets committing the murder. The quote, “To know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself’” (2.2.92), shows Macbeth and how he cannot bear to think about the actions he has committed. This is the point where he recognizes his mistake of murdering Duncan to fulfill the third prophecy. Another illustration of Macbeth’s anagnorisis is when Macbeth realizes that the new set of prophecies are false. At this point, he also realizes that he will die at the hands of Macduff. The quote, “Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d. Accursed be that tongue that tells me so, for hath cow’d my better part of man! And be these juggling fiends no more believed” (5.8.19-23), shows Macbeth’s recognition of his mistake. His mistake is relying too strongly on the prophecies told by the witches. Once he recognizes this, he knows his death is certain. In addition, Macbeth also displays the characteristic of anagnorisis when Macbeth is in recognition of Banquo’s murder and is in the state of feeling very guilty. Macbeth’s guilty conscience causes him to constantly Banquo’s ghost in his seat. The quote, “It will have blood; they say blood will have …show more content…
Peripeteia is when a hero turns for the worse after committing a mistake which is usually a negative turning point. The first example of Macbeth demonstrating the characteristic of peripeteia is when he is debating whether he should kill Duncan or not. Macbeth wants to be king but does not want to kill Duncan. The quote, “If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my sealed heart knock at my ribs, against the use of nature? Present fears are less than horrible imaginings” (1.3.144-148), shows his internal debate on killing Duncan. He turns for the worse when he decides to kill Duncan after being convinced by Lady Macbeth. This is the starting of his eventual downfall. Another example of Macbeth exhibiting peripeteia is when Macbeth determines there is no going back to being good because it is too hard and that he might as well stay on his path of killing people. This is illustrated by the quote, “All causes shall give away; I am in blood stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er: strange things I have in my head that will to hand, which must be acted ere they may be scann’d” (3.4.167-171). Peripeteia is present here when Macbeth seals his ill fate by deciding to continue on his current path. The last example of Macbeth showing peripeteia is when Macbeth accepts his oncoming

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