How does the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare vary from Aristotle's definition of a tragedy?In addition, how does the character Macbeth differ from Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero?

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lcassidy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to Aristotle, a good tragedy must have a character (protagonist) who falls from great height because of a tragic flaw in character.  Macbeth, who has become king, inevitably “falls” because of his ambition.  Furthermore, Aristotle also notes that the play must have an antagonist who opposes the protagonist in his quest.  This of course is the role of Macduff, who kills Macbeth at the end of the play.  Catharsis must also be achieved by the end of the play – and so, in Macbeth, Malcom and Donalbain are cleared of their accusations and the evil (Macbeth and Lady Macbeth) are punished (by death).  Macbeth adheres very closely to Aristotle’s definition of tragedy indeed.