Macbeth as an archetypal tragic hero?
I have to apply macbeth's experiences in the play to the archetypal hero characteristics and i have to make reference to the play (so exact quotes and reference from play). The characteristics of an archetypal hero are:
- fall from noble position
- hamartia (tragic flaw) in personality
- peripeteia (reversal of fortune)--> experiences this because chooses one action over another. it is brought by tragic flaw
- anagnorisis (increased awareness)--> heros increase in self-knowledge and self-awareness, hero knows what is going on or what went wrong before death
- catharsis (increased awareness in audience)--> audience is not feeling depressed at the end
1. Fall from noble position: Macbeth is well-liked and admired as a noble fighting for King Duncan. His murder of Duncan leads to getting Duncan's crown, but no one admires or respects him any more. He has gained position but lost his entire support system in doing so.
2. Tragic flaw: This is greed. Macbeth wants power so much that he is willing to interpret the witches' prophecy in a way that allows him to think he is invincible. Once he has killed once, he is willing to kill again to maintain his position as king.
3. Reversal of fortune: Whereas he was once a man on the rise, favoured by then King Duncan, and admired by all, he becomes hated and feared. He is also, thus, doomed because his downfall is both predicted by the witches, and inevitable because everyone wants him dead. Instead of being on his way up in the world, he is on his way out.
4. Increased awareness: He knows he's done wrong, and he knows he will do more wrong. He recognizes that since he can't go back in time and undo what he has done, he is forced to carry on, even though he is deeply unhappy. Just before Macduff kills him, Macbeth becomes aware, too, of how much he has played into the witches' hands - he has been a pawn. He believed no one could kill him, and this led him to murderous actions. He has no one to blame but himself.
5. Catharsis: The audience may feel some sympathy for Macbeth, initially, but as Macbeth kills more and more innocent people, including his good friend Banquo, and Macduff's wife and children, there is no pity left for Macbeth. Everyone wants to see justice done - Macbeth's death is the only logical way for Scotland's people to reclaim freedom and move forward.