Macbeth - Tragedy Essay

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William Shakespeare is the noted author of a vast array of plays, ranging from comedies to histories to tragedies. Perhaps one of his most famous in the tragedy genre is Macbeth. Though Shakespeare can be considered as a scholar in the sense that he was both a renowned and prolific playwright, look back a few hundred years to find Aristotle, one of the most famous scholars and philosophers of all time. In his treatise titled Poetics, he defends poetry against criticism as well as sets standards for tragedies in "The Nature of Tragedy," a section of the Poetics. Is Macbeth fit to be included in the tragedy genre according to the standards set by Aristotle?

According to Aristotle, a tragedy is "an imitation of an action
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Now Macbeth has to accept that fact that he will yield, and in doing so, dies. Another part of the plot is the Scene of Suffering, which is "a destructive or painful action." In the case of Macbeth, the Scene of Suffering could be the bloody murder of Duncan by Macbeth.

As stated in "The Nature of Tragedy," the change in fortune should be from good to bad rather than from bad to good. Although the sequence of events that occur throughout Macbeth may not appear to document a change in fortune from good to bad, they all constitute of a change because it shows Macbeth's moral downfall. Also, according to Aristotle, the misfortune should be brought by the character's own error or frailty. In the case of Macbeth, the frailty that brings about his misfortune and eventual destruction is ultimately ambition.

Another important aspect of a tragedy is character. In his Poetics, Aristotle says that "first and most important, it must be good." Macbeth's character in Macbeth is not exactly the portrayal of an ideal man, but he is not the worst man either. He may appear to be wicked and corrupt throughout the play, but he is actually portrayed as a relatively good man in the beginning of the play. At the start of the play, he possesses valor and bravery in the war and Duncan considers him to be honorable. "What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won."

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