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Payal Khullar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character of Macbeth in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a perfect example of a tragic hero.

A tragic hero is supposed to have a high noble status. Macbeth is shown to be a warrior, and someone very loyal to the king. Just as the play opens, we we are made aware of Macbeth’s heroic status because of the battle he fights and wins so courageously.

A tragic hero has to have a "tragic" flaw, i.e. Hamartia and this tragic flaw causes destruction of the character’s nobleness and ultimately leads to his downfall, even death. Macbeth grows excessively hungry for power. And this over ambitiousness in him is actually a reason for his fall. Because of the prophecies of the witches about him, he starts strongly desiring to become the king. He doesn't think of the consequences. He grows from a brave, morally strong human being to a violent, evil one. Macbeth kills King Duncan, and several others like (Macduff's wife and child, Banquo) just for power. Besides these, after gaining the throne, Macbeth becomes overly proud. He thinks he has got it all and nothing can destroy his power now. This is also a major flaw, extreme pride or Hubris. Macbeth cannot have redemption. And he dies in the end.

Like a tragic hero, Macbeth does not die unaware of the cause of his destruction, i.e. he realizes that he himself is to be blamed for all of it. But he accepts this and chooses not to be a coward, although he knows that as per the witches’ prophecies, he will die in the war. He shows courage in the end, and so, in this way, Macbeth dies as a hero.


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