One might choose to assent to the statement, “Macbeth is a tragic hero.”
This conclusion may be based upon certain characteristics , proposed by
Aristotle, that warrants him worthy of such a title. Aristotle stated that a
tragic hero must be of certain qualities: a man of noble stature, good, though
not perfect, have a fall that results from committing an act of injustice, which
is his own fault, and receive a punishment that exceeds the crime.
A tragic hero is one of noble stature, and is good. Macbeth is known as
the Thane of Cawdor. He receives this honor because he has just returned from a
military success that has covered him in glory. Macbeth can be considered
“good” at the start of the work. He is good, although he is not perfect. He has
a good heart and is in a keen state of mind before he hears the witches’
prophecy. Macbeth does not begin to become evil until he is convinced to act on
the prophecy by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is the evil one who poisons
Macbeth’s mind; although, she is only encouraging her husband to do what she
feels is in his best interest.
The hero’s downfall is his own fault, the result of his own free choice,
not the result of an accident or fate. An accident and/or fate may be a
contributing factor in the hero’s downfall, but are not alone responsible.
Macbeth’s downfall is entirely his fault. He chose to listen to the witches’
prophecy. Banquo heard the same prophecy, but chose not to allow himself to be
duped. Macbeth could have done the same thing. He, instead, chose to accept
the prophecy and act upon it. Macbeth spends most of the play in moral
indecision. Lady Macbeth encourages him, but it is he that chooses his actions.
A tragic hero’s misfortune is not wholly deserved. The punishment
exceeds the crime. Macbeth does not totally deserve to die as a result of these
incidents. He begins the work as a good man, but later declines because of the
desires of his wife, and bad choices. Macbeth does not want to kill anyone, but
does it. He is a person of greatness, but is also of weakness. In the
beginning he is “better than ourselves.” Macbeth’s death may not be considered
a total loss because knowledge is gained before he dies. Aristotle says that
there is some “discovery”, a change from ignorance to knowledge.
In conclusion, Macbeth can be described as “tragic hero” because he
possesses the characteristics that are required by Aristotle. Macbeth is of
nobility, is good, though not perfect, experiences a downfall that is his own
fault, has a misfortune that is now wholly deserved, and receives a punishment
that exceeds the crime.