A tragedy is consists with pity and fear. According to A.C. Bradley, tragedy is “a tale of suffering and calamity conducting to death”. The tragic hero is an exceptional man and his suffering is also exceptional. Everybody has a feeling of pity when the tragic hero suffers.

The hero of a Shakespearean tragedy is invariably an exceptional person, who stands in a high position, Macbeth throughout the play is presented as an extraordinary being overall and thus he fulfils the basic requirements of a tragic hero. Shakespeare introduces him as brave general, king’s cousin, worthy gentleman, ‘Bellona’s bridegroom’, ‘a very eagle among the sparrows’, and ‘a lion among the hares’. But his down fall is less sympathetic than that of Othello, King Lear and Hamlet. As a sinner Macbeth’s position is not better than that of Milton’s Satan.

Macbeth’s tragedy is a ‘tragedy of ambition’. The witches have chosen Macbeth as their victim because he has a secret desire to become the king of Scotland. This is his motivated desire, which makes him to murder Duncan. This thought revives in his mind when Duncan declares the nomination of Prince Malcolm as the successor of the Scottish throne. Macbeth finds that his chance of becoming the ruler is slipping away and he plans to take early action.

Duncan’s decision to visit Macbeth’s castle gives him the ultimate opportunity to fulfill his latent desire. But he still suffers a moral conflict between his ambition and his conscience. In this tragic consequences Macbeth’s ambition overpowers his conscience to murder Duncan, who is then his guest, lord, and overall his kinsman. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth becomes the new king but he commits another crime by murdering Banquo. In the banquet scene Macbeth is led by fear and guilt. The appearance of Banquo’s ghost creates fear in the mind of this great general. But he commits another error by murdering Lady Macduff and her child. Now Macbeth became a ‘dead butcher’. Women’s cry does not touch him. On hearing the death news of his wife Macbeth says—‘I have almost forgot the taste of fears’ -as he almost lost his sense of feelings. He reviews his own life which to him is a tale told by an idiot. In his famous ‘tomorrow and tomorrow’ soliloquy, he muses on the vanity of life.

A messenger arrives with the news that Birnam Woods have begun to move. Macbeth realizes that his end comes. In facing Macduff on the battlefield Macbeth feels that he has already done enough harm to Macduff, but it was too late. Then Macbeth comes to know that Macduff is not born of woman, Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped. Macbeth fought Macduff bravely but soon beheaded. Here the tragedy finished.

In the whole course of drama Macbeth walks through the path of shadows and he digs his own grave. He is a potential anti-hero who begins as a hero but ends as a villain! The downfall of Macbeth is totally acceptable and unavoidable!

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About VIKRAM ROY

Hi, I am Vikram, a friend of you! I would like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming you to my blog! You can read my book “The Alchemist A Mystery In Three Acts” Available now on Amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IDUD4C Always love, Vikram Roy

10 responses »

  1. granbee says:

    Vikram, I remember our English literature class in high school cheering when MacBeth finally was slain on the battlefield. We felt that he had created his own fate, his own destiny, out of a heart of illegal aspirations and ambition that made it fair game for those witches to turn into pure evil and darkness.

  2. Hi Vikram. An interesting post, but I have a very different take on your rather traditional view of Macbeth as an “exceptional person” brought down by simple ambition. You see, I believe the play is about deceit, and that’s clearly foregrounded by the witches in the first scene of the play: “fair is foul and foul is fair”. The play is littered with references to dissembling (the flower and serpent, no art to find the mind’s constriction in the face, sleek o’er your rugged looks, etc.). Macbeth therefore APPEARS to be a faithful servant to the king, but is – and always has been – dissembling. Why, indeed, does he “start and seem to fear things which do sound so fair”; why has he suggested “the enterprise” to his wife, off-stage and possibly before the play begins? It is because he fight snot for Duncan, but for his own position as potential heir to the throne, a position he would lose immediately if MacDonald or the Norwegians take Scotland. Macbeth has ALWAYS planned to kill Duncan, and the witches merely put his “back and deep desires” into words.

    This has implications for the whole play. Macbeth is “fair is foul” – that is, appears good but is actually evil; his “dearest partner in greatness”, therefore, is “foul is fair”. Gathering her strength to do terrible things to support her murderous husband, Lady Macbeth is not the woman who would dash her baby’s brains pout: she is the woman who couldn’t kill an old man because he looked like her father. What other kind of woman would end up mad, killing herself for guilt about crimes she knew nothing about?

    Macbeth is not a play about ambition – after all, once he becomes king, where does Macbeth’s ambition go? In terms of ambition, the play ends at the end of the first act. No, among many other things – we are talking about the world’s most complex writer after all – this is a tragedy about two people who would be great were they able to truly know each other.

    Happy reading!

  3. Hi Vikram–a very interesting read of “Macbeth,” though I would suggest a second look at a couple of points. You speak of the weird sisters as an active force, “choosing Macbeth as their victim”–I would say that their role is closer to that of the Greek chorus–they speak with Stigean foresight but not the ability to affect actions.
    You nailed it on Macbeth’s tragic flaw–his ambition. I would couple that with the love of his wife. Had he not loved Lady Macbeth so much, he would not have heeded her murderous advice. He would have been had a stronger moral core. The ambition, in the end, is Lady Macb’s–and Mac’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy can be seen as a heart-wrenching plunge into the depths of dispair. It is an acknowledgment of what his wife did and why–and what she drove him to; and though he will not take her way out, his path forward is none the less suicidal–the Shakespearean equivalent of “death by cop.”

    Just some thoughts–and thank you for providing a forum to talk about Shakespeare! Love it.

    • Hi Shawn – afraid I have to disagree about Macbeth’s love for Lady M. Have you noticed that she NEVER calls herself “Queen”, simply referring to what SHE can do to help HIM? Have you noticed that HER soliloquies are peppered with references to him, but she is NEVER mentioned in his? Given that soliloquies are the true heart of the character, we can assume that all the “dearest chuck” stuff he gives her to her face is actually blatantly manipulative; indeed, I believe that Macbeth manipulates his wife, even in the so-called “manipulation scene” where she apparently persuades him to go through with it. No – at the end, she takes on all the guilt for HIS crimes, he dismisses her death with a “I don’t have time for this just now”. The truth is that she is besotted with him, and he couldn’t care less about her.

  4. I love your blog…feels like a literature class-a very good thing 😀

  5. […] Macbeth by William Shakespeare : A Character Review! (vikramroyblog.wordpress.com) […]

  6. […] Macbeth by William Shakespeare : A Character Review! (vikramroyblog.wordpress.com) […]

  7. So happy to see Shakespeare is still being spiritedly discussed! I was beginning to feel like the only Bard-from-Avon fan left!

  8. […] Macbeth by William Shakespeare : A Character Review! (vikramroyblog.wordpress.com) […]

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