HELP PLEEEEASE! "MacBeth does evil things in the play MacBeth, but he is also shown as a victim". Comment on this statement.A detailed answer would be brillant. However, a brief outline f your...

HELP PLEEEEASE!

"MacBeth does evil things in the play MacBeth, but he is also shown as a victim". Comment on this statement.

A detailed answer would be brillant. However, a brief outline f your opinion could also prove to be helpful. Thanks.

Asked on by fox2k11

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jlbh's profile pic

jlbh | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

You need to consider the nature of tragedy. According to Aristotle, whose theories greatly influenced the work of English dramatists in the 16th & 17th centuries, "the best tragedy should be one that represents incidents arousing fear and pity." A tragic hero must undergo a reversal of fortune, but this reversal must be caused by something within himself, a mistake, moral or actual, rather than by external forces such as enemies or fate. In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods. Aristotle terms this sort of recognition "a change from ignorance to awareness". For Seneca, the Roman dramatist who also influenced the English dramtists, this took the form of the hero's Stoical acceptance of his downfall.

Lay on, Macduff, says Macbeth at the end of the play, accepting not only the strange circumstances of Macduff's birth as the fulfilling of the prophecy, but acknowledging the disastrous consequences of his ambition.

Shakespearean tragic heroes tend to be imbued with free-will - the idea that they could, if they wished, proceed another way and avert disaster. In this sense, they connect with 'everyman' in the audience - the fallible, flawed human being making the wrong choices and paying the price. Hence, we can be and should be moved to pity, and to fear on his behalf. Macbeth is a 'victim' in this sense - of his own monstrous ambition which will not wait for fate (and he has had plenty of supernatural advice) and chooses to do murder instead. His ambition is more than matched by that of his Lady, who appears far less troubled - at least to begin with - by the consequences of her actions. (See her speeches in I,vii). Thus he is seen to be the weaker of the two, susceptible to having his manhood challenged, and in a sense, her 'victim'.

However, I think you should be careful of the word 'victim' - it requires (a little!) analysis, as does Macbeth's weakness.

Good luck!

 

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