The Concept Of Tragic Hero In Macbeth

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Every hero has a flaw. The Random House Dictionary defines a tragic flaw as “the character defect that causes the downfall of the protagonist of a tragedy”1. Every epic poem needs a tragic hero with a flaw in order to create a conflict. Tragic flaws add depth and realism to a fiction story. Playwright William Shakespeare is famous for using this very concept and applying it to the heroes in his works. In his play, Macbeth, Shakespeare develops the concept of a tragic hero as the story unravels. Shakespeare’s evolution of Macbeth’s character through the span of the play reveals that Macbeth’s hamartia is his moral weakness. Shakespeare begins to develop Macbeth’s hamartia as early as Act I. Upon one of Macbeth’s first mentions, …show more content…
Shakespeare first introduces Banquo as one of Macbeth’s very good friends, someone who Macbeth can easily trust. Macbeth knows this and even confides in Banquo after his first encounter with the witches, telling him, “let us speak/ Our free hearts each to other” (I.iv.172-3). Macbeth makes the order to kill Banquo and his son in order to fulfill his own ambitions. To convince the murderers to go through with the plan, Macbeth threatens their manhood: “Ay, in the catalogue you go for men, / As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels” (III.i.103-4). All of the animals that Macbeth lists are dogs, but some of them could not pass for dogs. This is a metaphor for manhood as Macbeth truly means that anyone can call themselves a man, but in order to be a true man, one must act like it. This parallel to Lady Macbeth’s threats about Macbeth’s manhood depicts that Macbeth is using immoral methods to meet his own ambitions. Macbeth knows that killing his best friend is not morally right, but his jealousy and rage fuel him to order Banquo’s murder. When Macbeth remembers that Banquo’s kin will be future rulers, he is infuriated that the witches “placed a fruitless crown” on his head and “put a barren scepter in my grip” (III.i.66, 67), which makes Macbeth bitter and blinds him with rage. Macbeth committing amicicide is an example of his moral weakness because he knows that it is wrong, but his ambition …show more content…
Macbeth knows that Macduff does not pose any real threat, but he still goes after his family in order to try and break him. The three witches convince Macbeth that “none of woman born/ Shall harm Macbeth” (IV.i.91-92). Macbeth believes this wholeheartedly because he knows that the witches’ prophecies are true, or he would not be king otherwise. Even though he believes that no man serves a threat to him, Macbeth’s ambition persists to the point where Macbeth becomes evil and “when evil in one’s nature is let loose, it enables one to commit vices which were previously unheard of him. It takes him to the path of doom through vices of the most detestable nature” (Islam, 187). The reveal of Macbeth’s evil character traces back to his moral weakness. If Macbeth was strong enough to stand by his moral beliefs in the first place, not letting Lady Macbeth convince him to commit his first crime, Macbeth would still be the good man he was. And yet, that is the sole reason as to why Macbeth has his tragic flaw. His inability to stand behind his morals leads to his death because he trusts the witches and does not bother to listen to his moral compass. Macbeth allows himself to trust the witches, therefore going against what he believes he should do. His weakness is his

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