Shakespeare's Macbeth - Villain, Tragic Hero, or Simply Ambitious ?

2083 Words 9 Pages
Macbeth: Villain, Tragic Hero, or Simply Ambitious ?

The play MacBeth conforms to the definition of a tragedy: “A play in verse or in prose dealing with tragic events, usually ending in the downfall of the protagonist”1. However, many sections of MacBeth do not describe a tragic hero, but merely a villain or a lord who is overly ambitious and pays the consequences for his actions. MacBeth is a tragedy that challenges the very foundations of that genre, set by Aristotle and Plato in the third century B.C. These foundations had been part of the text Poetics, in which Aristotle listed the six requirements of dramatic tragedy, one of which is the inclusion of a tragic hero, a fundamental that has been followed by many tragedians
…show more content…
When you durst do it, then you were a man”

The reader therefore cannot tell if the witches appeared in order to control MacBeth or were summoned by his own personal desire for the crown. If we believe that the Witches appeared in order to change MacBeth’s life then we can view MacBeth as a tragic hero as his life was being controlled not by his own decisions but by something that was out of his control. If however the reader views that the witches were somehow summoned by his inner desire, then this causes them to see him as somewhat of a villain as it was his sinister thoughts that eventually brought about his actions and consequences.

This is where MacBeth differs from the stereotypical villainous character, he is aware that his actions will bring about severe consequences, consequences that could outweigh the gains of the actions and yet he cannot seem to bury his ambition to become king.

“Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor: this even handed justice commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice.”

Banquo however does not allow the witches prophecy to adversely affect him; he is tempted by

Related Documents