Apply Aristotle's theory of tragedy to Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Aristotle wrote that tragedy has the morally serious goal of uplifting and teaching its audience. Its main purpose is catharsis: to raise the emotions of pity and terror in audiences as they identify with the tragic protagonist. These emotions will be purged through watching the play unfold, and the audience will exit the theatre feeling purified and also having learned a lesson about how the gods and men function in the universe. The audience can experience what it is like to make tragic decisions—and learn from them—without actually having to destroy their own lives.

Macbeth fulfills Aristotle's definition of a tragedy. It teaches the audience about good kingship ("meek"; living within ethical constraints) and bad kingship (out-of-control tyranny like Macbeth 's rule). More broadly, as most people will never be kings, it teaches a lesson about the pitfalls of letting ambition take over one's life. It raises terror; it is hard not, for example, to feel Macbeth's horror as he comes back to...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 802 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on