Is Macbeth "Tragedy of destiny" or "Tragedy of character"?character of macbeth

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would lean more toward "Tragedy of Destiny" than character, but you really could find evidence to support both views.

My reasons for supporting the Destiny claim is that Macbeth in the beginning of the play is completely on the up and up.  He is noble, brave, honorable, and concerned about how he appears to others and what they think of him.  He and Banquo have a great relationship and they work well together.  They are an incredible team on and off the battlefield.

Then, the meddling witches make their first appearance and play with his head.  The witches tell him that he will be "thane of Cawdor" and "king hereafter." 

Second Witch: All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!
Third Witch: All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter! (1.3)

Almost immediately afterward, Ross rides up and bestows upon Macbeth the title of Cawdor to Macbeth's amazement.  He writes a letter to his wife telling of the fantastic happenings.

When he arrives home, Lady Macbeth has already decided that they must take matters into their own hands and kill Duncan in order to make the remaining part of the prophecy come to fruition.  Macbeth recoils from the idea, but not too much.  They go through with the diabolical plan.

Up until this point, Macbeth has been a victim of what others have said he needs to do--then he begins making decision on his own (which is where you could point out and support "tragedy of character").

Macbeth hires murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance.  He orders the deaths of the Macduffs. He misinterprets the apparitions. It can be argued that he dies bravely.