Compare and contrast the presentation of Shakespere's Macbeth and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus as tragic heroes.

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It seems very clear that the character of Macbeth is imbued with more dignity and heroism by Shakespeare than the character of Doctor Faustus is by Marlowe. Although both are clearly evil characters who do evil things in order to satisfy their ambition, at the same time, as Macbeth nears his end, he is given eloquent lines that speak of his suffering and loss and his recognition of his own mortality. Note, for example, how he responds to his wife's death in Act V:

She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death...

Macbeth here clearly acknowledges that he has no future now, but what is so inspiring about him as a character is the way that even after he learns Macduff is the fulfilment of the final prophecy, he does not give in, and determines to fight to the very end, even when he knows that end is certain. By contrast, Faustus is a man who, when he has the power he has sacrificed so much for, squanders it in rather silly and petty ways, only realising the true extent of what he has done at the end of his life before he is claimed. There is nothing heroic about him and the way that he meets his end, whereas it is fitting and proper to view Macbeth as a tragic hero because of his bravery in the face of certain defeat and death.

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