Who is tragic hero in Macbeth?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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A tragic hero is more tragic if he is noble and corrupted by the outside world or the evil forces. However, if the tragic hero’s actions are more a result of some inner moral or intellectual flaw, then he is less tragic. In short, the hero’s fall is more tragic if he is initially noble or if the tragic flaw is not his fault. A noble hero who becomes seduced by evil forces or evil suggestions is somewhat in the middle.

Likewise, there are different interpretations of hamartia. It comes from the root to “miss the mark,” and differing interpretations will note it is to “sin” or simply to make a mistake. So, Macbeth is a tragic hero (of the middle ground). He is seduced by the vague suggestions of the weird sisters, which means he may or may not have been noble. When we meet Macbeth, he has just fought nobly? for the, then, King Duncan. And since he was plagued by guilt, which he mistook for fear, he must have had some noble notions. Hamartia is often described as a mistake committed by the hero unwittingly. Hamartia as a tragic flaw then applies more to a hero who commits a mistake or sin through no fault of his own. Macbeth is responsible for his actions. Macbeth is to some degree, a tragic hero. And I think you could say his flaw is tragic or hamartia also to a degree because he knew what he was doing for the most part, but he was pressured by his wife and there may be an element of supernatural influence on the part of the witches, but that may be giving Macbeth too much credit.


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daljit | eNotes Newbie

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Macbeth is the tragic hero in Macbeth. He has several flaws, but arguably the most important one is his ambition when he states: “Vaulting ambition, which o'er leaps itself, and falls on the 'other" and this proves further evidence on his main flaw. His actions later on also prove this, especially when he murders Duncan; he cries out “whose hands are these? They pluck out mine eyes!”

Over the course of the play, Macbeth's ambition grows. He succeeds in murdering Duncan, being named the new king, and ruling the kingdom. As his success grows, so does his ambitious nature; it is proven when ‘Two truths are told, as happy prologues to the swelling act". Fearing that the rest of the witches' prophecy will come true (that Banquo's sons will be kings), Macbeth decides to murder both him and his sons (namely Fleance). Still feeling threatened Macbeth murders Macduff's family (to send a message of his power to Macduff).

Given Macbeth's ambition has brought about the death of many; it is of no surprise that it will bring death to him as well. Essentially, if Macbeth would have allowed "chance to crown him," his ambition would not have grown and lead to his own demise.

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qassas09 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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To begin with the last question, Macbeth himself is the tragic hero of the play. The title of the play has the name of the tragic hero, unlike Julius Caesar in which the tragic hero is not Julius Caesar but Brutus. Macbeth has been hailed by many critics as a tragedy of ambition. The events of the play are ignited by the ambition the three witches instill in Macbeth at the beginning of the play. As a tragic hero, Macbeth’s hamartia, or tragic flaw, can be his ambition. however, we must remember that his ambition is not what the play is about. From one perspective, the whole play is about how man attempts to fulfill his destiny by his own hands. When Macbeth expedites fulfilling the witches’ prophecy, he becomes the king but also a butcher. He does not even spare Macduff’s son. From another perspective, his hamartia is his fear. He is not secure even after becoming a king because fear fills his heart and soul. We must remember that it was Lady Macbeth who pushed him toward his first murder to attain the “imperial theme.” Misinterpretation is key word in this play. Right from the beginning of the play, we hear the witches say, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” This statement sets the atmosphere of the play which signifies misinterpretation. What Macbeth views as fair turns out to be foul. The “fair” idea of becoming the king has turned out to destructive. As a tragic hero, Macbeth is destroyed by his ambition and his fears. Many men are destroyed by their ambitions and fears; Macbeth is the prototype of such men.      

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