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In Macbeth, in what ways does Macbeth fit the description of a tragic hero? What major...

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yari714 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 16, 2009 at 1:52 PM via web

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In Macbeth, in what ways does Macbeth fit the description of a tragic hero? What major factors contibute to Macbeth's downfall?

 

So I thought of this thesis "In the tragic play Macbeth William Shakesphere conveys Macbeth as a tragic hero through his free will, overconfidence and easily trusting others.

Yet, when I showed it to my teacher she said to choose charateristics of a tragic hero and write my 3 paragraphs of those which really confused me!!

These charateristiics would be virtue, hubris and divine warning. Yet, I have no idea how to word it in my thesis !

please help me!

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 17, 2009 at 7:59 AM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth is a tragic hero because his character "fits" the characteristics of a tragic hero as Shakespeare developed the model. Therefore, to examine Macbeth as a tragic hero, it is necessary to review the idea of the tragic hero. In Shakespeare's tragedies, the tragic hero is a man who holds a high place in society, one who is exemplary and well respected. From this "high place," he falls by making decisions that result in his own destruction.

The tragedy of his destruction lies in his "fatal flaw," a flaw in his own character that brings him down. In other words, his tragedy is that he destroys himself. Another element of his tragedy is that he is not aware of his fatal flaw until it is too late to save himself. The tragic hero, however, doesn't give up easily. He fights against his destruction, trying to reverse his downfall.

Finally, in order to emphasize the tragedy of a formerly good man's destruction, Shakespeare gives us a glimpse of the hero as he once was. This occurs at the conclusion of the play. In your essay examining Macbeth, go to the play and you will find that he exemplifies all of Shakespeare's characteristics of a tragic hero. In fact, some statement of that observation could serve as a good thesis for your essay. Good luck!

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted March 16, 2009 at 7:08 PM (Answer #2)

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Well, what were his virtues and flaws?  Hubris is a flaw in character which could be a "good" trait but is overdone or there is a situation the character cannot handle.  Macbeth's hubris is his ambition and desire for power.  What were his virtues?  He loved his wife; he wanted what was best for his wife and his people, that was why he killed the tyrant Duncan in the first place.  But his virtue was offset by his hubris and his actions in murdering his king to achieve the power he wants for the good of others, so he turns into as bad a tyrant as Duncan had been.  He had a divine warning from the witches.  As far as "how to word it in my thesis," you have to figure that out yourself.  You had a good opening sentence- rewrite it to fit your thinking about Macbeth's traits as a tragic figure.

http://members.tripod.com/~lklivingston/essay/ is a good place to find out more about writing;  so is http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/545/01/  which concentrates on the thesis statement.

 

Hubris

NOUN:

Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance: "There is no safety in unlimited technological hubris" (McGeorge Bundy).

ETYMOLOGY:
Greek, excessive pride, wanton violence; see ud- in Indo-European roots (http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/hubris)

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