Homework Help

Is Macbeth a Tyrant or a tragic hero, who let his fatal flaw destroy him? Was he really...

user profile pic

aliyasha | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 29, 2008 at 11:27 AM via web

dislike 2 like
Is Macbeth a Tyrant or a tragic hero, who let his fatal flaw destroy him? Was he really behind all the plots, or was he tricked into doing them?

Is Macbeth a Tyrant or a tragic hero, who let his fatal flaw destroy him? Was he really behind all the plots, or was he tricked into doing them?

6 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 29, 2008 at 11:38 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Macbeth falls into both categories, having characteristics of a tragic hero, such as, the potential for greatness but doomed to failure, he has a fatal flaw that leads him to make a tragic mistake, which results in his death.

Macbeth is a tragic hero, his potential for greatness is evident in the early part of the play when King Duncan bestows on him a second noble title, Thane of Cawdor.  As a loyal, courageous servant of the King of Scotland, Macbeth is on the fastrack for success.  His fatal flaw is unchecked ambition.

After he receives the prophecy that he will be King, he acts on his desire for power, allowing unchecked ambition to rule his decisions, he commits murder. 

It is after he becomes King that he becomes a tyrant.In an effort to preserve his power,  he murders or has murdered anyone who appears to be a threat to his crown.

It is debatable whether Macbeth was behind all the plots, he clearly had encouragement from Lady Macbeth to kill the King.  He really didn't want to go through with the murder.  Was he manipulated by the witches, to a degree, they gave him information that unleashed in him a hidden desire, to be king.

I don't think that he was tricked by the witches, Macbeth wanted to be King, the witches merely showed him what would be, Macbeth rushed the process with the murder of the King.   

user profile pic

morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 29, 2008 at 11:39 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

The tragic hero is marked by several traits that almost never change.

One, the tragic hero always starts as nobility. He is always someone with a high social status. This fits Macbeth.

Two, the tragic hero always falls from noble status because of a "tragic flaw" This tragic flaw is always the same thing. It is hubris which in Greek means "excessive pride".

Fate is always an important part of a tragic hero. Fate causes all of the hero's hardships to occur, so as far as traditional form goes, no, Macbeth was not responsible for anything but his own pride.

user profile pic

bunnylvs2read | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 29, 2008 at 3:00 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

First of all I would like to say love the picture.

Ok on to the answer

I think it depends on your view. Do you think it was wise of Macbeth to kill to gain more power or do you think he was a villian for commiting murder. You have to ask yourself does the end justify the means. I would say he was a tyrant. His desire for power caused Lady MacBeth to go insane. After all she still sees blood on her hands after she has killed, and can not get the bloody spot from her mind. This however is just my opinion on MacBeth.

user profile pic

johepworth | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 10, 2008 at 3:02 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

we think Macbeth was a tyrant to outsiders such as servants and people outise Scotland's immediate circle of power becausen all they see of their new king is the trail of blood he leaves behind him. they know nothing of the internal workings of his mind of why he comitted such devastating deeds.

  To the audience he would seem more of a tragic hero as they are party to his state of mind and why he does the things he does. His redemptive qualities are shown through his sololoquies particularly after he kills Duncan whe he says "I cannot say Amen..." This shows that he does indeed feel guilt at the acts he commits and he does accept some responsibility. His guilt is his redeeming quality. It makes his seem human after the inhumane act of murder.

user profile pic

englishclass | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 12, 2008 at 11:07 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

Macbeth can be both, shakespeare has created a complex 3d character who can have more than one character trait so can be a ruthless tyrant as well as a tragic hero. His tyrant like side appears later on in the play and can be sad to be revealed by his newly aquired power which comes with being king.

He could also be cosidered as a tragic hero with the fatal flaw of impatience which destroys his and Lady Macbeth's lives. His flaw can be seen as impatience rather than ambition as it can be argued that it is acceptable for him to be ambitious, to want to be higher, to want to be better. But to want it all imediatley maybe too much.

From an insider's point of view who knows MAcbeth and has followed his story would claim he is a tragic hero. It is clear in some places of the play that macbeth is a tragic hero, such as his redeeming action of not killing Macduff when he is in submission.

However from an outsider's point of view who only looks at it by looking at Macbeth's actions it would come across as tyrany.

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 23, 2012 at 1:48 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

Macbeth is technically a tragic hero, because he is a hero who has a tragic flaw that leads to a fall.  Macbeth is arrogant, and his arrogance leads to greed.  Greed leads to destruction.  It is because of his greed that he becomes a tyrant, and in his desperation to hold on to what he has, he is a tyrant.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes