Is Macbeth A Tragic Hero Or A Tyrant? Essay

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Is Macbeth A Tragic Hero Or A Tyrant?

Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most emotive plays, is set in Scotland during the 11th Century and follows the downfall of a man who is led by temptation to mass murder and cruelty. Macbeth, at different stages in the play, demonstrates many of the characteristics of both an evil tyrant and a tragic hero. However, a tragic hero is defined as a great man who falls because of a fatal flaw and Macbeth bests fits this description. Therefore Macbeth fits the role of a tragic hero and not a tyrant.

In Aristotle's "Poeticus", an ancient Greek drama, the definition of a tragic hero includes several criteria. Firstly, the character must be important and his actions
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As well, his actions have so far affected many people, as he has saved Scotland from invasion and played a large part in a battle (another criteria of a tragic hero).

The other characteristic of a tragic hero is a flaw in the character. In Macbeth's case, it is his unnaturally large sense of ambition and pride, his imagination and insecurity as a man that contributes to his demise. His unnaturally large amount of ambition is even acknowledged by Macbeth in Act 1 Scene 7. "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself and falls on th'other..". This refers to Macbeth's motivation to kill Duncan. Macbeth's ambition is the central driving force for almost all of his actions in the play, and it is the witches who play on this ambition.

Macbeth's insecurity as man is another one of his character faults. Macbeth can "prove" his manliness on the battlefield easily, however Lady Macbeth's knowledge of Macbeth's lack in manliness in other areas allows her to easily manipulate Macbeth to kill the king. In Act 1 Scene 7 after Macbeth makes the tentative decision not to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth's manhood by stating, "When you durst do it, then you were a man". Lady Macbeth also offers another taunt in Act 3 Scene 4 after Macbeth's 'sight' of Banquo's ghost by asking "Are you a man?" to call for
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