Essay on Definitions of a Tragedy: Shakespeare's and Aristotle's

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In writing a tragedy, there are certain standards and guidelines to which an author or playwright must follow. One such standard is the Aristotelian definition of tragedy and the tragic hero. William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is a perfect mold of an Aristotelian Tragedy. It displays all eight aspects of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy. It is set mainly in Scotland, but briefly in England during the eleventh century. It illuminates the ideal plot, in which the action of the story, or Macbeth’s murder of Duncan along with his meticulous planning of other murders, takes place over the course of several days in Scotland, particularly at Macbeth’s castle in Dunsinane. Shakespeare creates Macbeth to be the tragic hero of the play. …show more content…

“Which of you have done this? Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake thy gory locks at me” (Act 3 scene iv lines50-51). Here, Macbeth speaks to the ghost, telling Banquo not to blame him for the murder. Macbeth is constantly reminded of the people he has killed, but sees past them in order to seek the throne. In The Tragedy of Macbeth, the reversal of action occurs when Macduff kills Macbeth. Throughout the play, Macbeth goes after what he desires most, the kingship. He is driven by his corrupt ambition, which leads to his inevitable destruction. His life ends in the same way as he took the lives of others, in murder and deception. Hamartia and hubris, both terms developed by Aristotle in his work Poetics, are seen as being the fatal flaw or error of a play’s protagonist or hero. Macbeth’s tragic error is believing he can beat the prophecies of the witches. He attempts to stop Banquo’s lineage by having Banquo and Fleance killed. He is unsuccessful in doing so because Fleance escapes, allowing the prophecy to be fulfilled. When Macbeth hears of Fleance, he is outraged. He says, “Then comes my fit again. I had else been perfect, whole as the marble, founded as the rock, as broad and general as the casing air. But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in to saucy doubts and fears.-But Banquo’s safe?” (Act 3 scene iv lines 21-25). Macbeth now has Banquo out of the

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