To what extent is Macbeth considered a tragic hero in the play Macbeth?  

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If we follow Aristotle's definition of the tragic hero, Macbeth fits the definition on several levels. First, Macbeth is a noble, and he is respected by others. Next, he suffers hamartia when he is overtaken by his greed and ambition. Macbeth does not trust "Chance" to see him through to becoming king, so he resolves to take matters into his own hands. Once he begins his plotting and then becomes king, he does not feel safe in this position because it was gotten through ill means. Macbeth's greed motivates him to eliminate all threats to his position, so he continues to kill. The audience does feel pity for Macbeth because he was originally a good and noble subject of Duncan: Macbeth fought valiantly for the king and was rewarded by Duncan. But as the play continues, Macbeth cannot, or at least is not willing, to see that his actions are wrong. At the end of the play, however, Macbeth does not experience anagnorisis and catharsis the way that tragic heroes do according to the Aristotelian model--instead Macbeth says that he will "try the last" and fight for his cause until the bitter end. Macbeth does not take responsibility for his ill acts, and he dies still fighting for his position as king.

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Macbeth

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