Uploaded by Such AGamer

Macbeth Essay

Understanding Macbeth as a Tragic Hero
The topic of a tragic hero is often brought up in literature. A tragic hero often has
characteristics such as a tragic flaw, there is often the supernatural, and good usually wins in
the end. These traits and events often conclude in the death of the main character. This is why
Macbeth’s traits as a tragic hero lead to the outcome of the play through his tragic flaw, the
supernatural, and good winning in the end.
Macbeth’s tragic flaw which leads to the outcome of the play is his greed/ambition.
Greed is the feeling of a selfish desire that usually results in immoral actions. For Macbeth,
greed caused him to commit many immoral actions which led him to his end. At the beginning of
the play Macbeth was considered a noble and loyal member of Scotland. He had the title Thane
of Cawdor, and he was content with this. One day Macbeth was told by the Three Weird Sisters
that he was destined to become king. This was where his greed/ambition kicked in. After
hearing this, he wanted to become king so immensely that he was willing to do just about
anything. The only way that Macbeth would become king was by killing King Duncan without
people knowing, and that is what he did. “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I
must fall down, or else overleap, for in my way it lies. Star, hide your fires! Let not light see my
black and deep desires. The eye winks at the hand, yet that be which the eye fears, when it is
done, to see.” (1.4. 51-54). This quote shows Macbeth’s feelings of his deep desires (greed).
Macbeth was not the only one given a prophecy because Banquo was too. Macbeth was afraid
that Banquo would find out that he killed Duncan and would try to do something about it that
could lead to Banquo’s prophecy being fulfilled. Macbeth was so greedy/ambitious to become
king, that he killed Banquo, just off of the assumption that Banquo might know what was going
on. Another prophecy that Macbeth was given was that he would not be killed by any man born
by a woman. Macbeth took this as he was invincible, but later Macduff revealed during their final
fight that he was born by C-section and ended up killing Macbeth. Macbeth never needed to
fight Macduff, as he could have had any of his people fight Macduff instead, but Macbeth's
ambition made him want to kill Macduff. This goes to show that Macbeth’s greed was a leading
factor in how the play ended, as he did not need to fight Macduff. “Then live, Macduff. What
need I fear of thee? But yet I will make assurance double sure, And take a bond of Fate. Thou
shalt not live,” (4.1. 91-92). This quote shows how Macbeth just wanted to kill because he
thought he would not die and not because he needed to kill him. All this could have been
avoided if Macbeth did not have this tragic flaw, but this is not the only factor that led to the
outcome end of the play.
The supernatural in Macbeth stirred up conflict through their prophecies. The
supernatural in Macbeth were the Three Weird Sisters. Macbeth was content with the title
Thane of Cawdor until the Three Weird Sisters gave him his prophecy. This prophecy activated
his greed and made him kill people for his own benefit. “All hail, Macbeth, all hail to thee, Thane
of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth, all hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be
King hereafter!” (1.3. 49-53). This quote shows when the Three Weird Sisters implanted the
thought of Macbeth being king in his head. This happening ultimately caused the play to end the
way it did. Another action they cause was the order of Scotland to fall apart by pushing Macbeth
to become king. This allowed Macbeth full reign over Scotland. If he was not stopped he could
have caused much more damage that could have resulted much worse. If Macbeth never
became king the order of Scotland would have stayed intact and nothing bad would have
happened. The Three Weird Sisters also led Macbeth to his death, as they could have told him
that Macduff was going to kill him, but they used a riddle that Macbeth did not understand until it
was too late and Macduff killed him. “The power of man, for none of woman born shall harm
Macbeth.” (4.1. 88-89). This quote shows how the Three Weird Sisters tricked Macbeth into
thinking he could not be killed and lead him to his demise. If the Three Weird Sister did not tell
their prophecies the play might have ended differently. This leads to my next point of good
winning in the end.
A tragic hero story often ends with good overcoming evil. Throughout the play, we saw
how Macbeth’s character had changed. In the beginning, he was a good man who was noble
and loyal. As the play went along we saw how Macbeth turned into an evil person who only
cared about himself. “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a
word.” (5.5. 19-20). In this quote, Macbeth reveals that he does not even care that his wife died.
Since good usually wins in the end, Macbeth’s character change foreshadowed what the end of
the play would be like. Since Macbeth became the evil one his death was expected. Also, after
Macbeth became king, the order of Scotland was in shambles so it needed to be restored. The
only way for this to happen was for Macbeth to be killed and for a loyal person to become king
which once again, foreshadowed his death because good wins in the end. “Hail, King, for so
thou art. Behold where stands The usurper’s cursed head. The time is free.” (5.8. 64-66). This
quote shows when Macduff enters with Macbeth’s head and hails Malcolm as king. Also,
Macbeth was not going to stop his reign of destruction after killing so many people for his own
benefit. So he needed to be stopped, and that is what happened, which led to the order being
restored and good winning in the end. As you can see, all fingers were pointing to the death of
Macbeth because good wins in the end.
To conclude, Macbeth’s tragic flaw being greed/ambition, the supernatural being the
Three Weird Sisters, and good winning in the end, lead to my conclusion that Macbeth is indeed
a tragic hero. If these events did not take place I do not think the outcome of the play would
have been the same and I do not think Macbeth would be considered a tragic hero, do you?
Work Cited
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth.