Why is the play referred to as a tragedy? What episodes can be described as tragic?  

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play Macbeth is a tragedy. The character of Macbeth is a tragic hero. Clearly, the soldier Macbeth is a hero in every sense of the word. He leads the men in battle and fights heroically. He cuts Macdonwald in two and ends the battle that is going on in the first scenes. No doubt, King Duncan is impressed and seeks to honor Macbeth as the new Thane of Cawdor.

Truly, Macbeth is a tragic hero. He is honorable in his loyalty to King Duncan's military forces. Macbeth fights with all of his heart. He leaves his blood and sweat on the battlefield. He gives it his all. Then Macbeth's tragic flaw is revealed when he meets the witches. The witches bring out evil desires in Macbeth. While Macbeth seemed content while fighting on the bloody battlefield, he meets the witches and, with their prophecies, Macbeth becomes power hungry. He begins to covet the throne.

From this point, Macbeth becomes more and more eager to have King Duncan's position as king. Macbeth shares his evil desires with Lady Macbeth. The two of them begin plotting the murder of King Duncan. Nothing will satisfy the greedy Macbeth. He will stop at nothing to have King Duncan's position of power.

Macbeth begins to turn on Banquo as well. Banquo is a threat to Macbeth. He was with Macbeth when he encountered the witches. Banquo knows too much. Now, he must die too. Macbeth has become overly ambitious which is costing men their very lives. First, he murders King Duncan. Then, he has Banquo murdered. Macduff's family is next on the list to be murdered.

Clearly, Macbeth has allowed greed to overcome his reasoning. This becomes Macbeth's tragic flaw. A tragic hero is one who starts out as honorable but then becomes corrupt in some area of his life. A tragic hero is one who has been virtuous but then meets his end with suffering and defeat, due to his character flaw.

Truly, Macbeth has changed. His character flaw is based on his greed and desire for things that are not his, such as the throne of Scotland. His tragic flaw is due to Macbeth becoming overly ambitious. Ultimately, Macbeth faces Macduff in battle. Macduff will get his revenge for the terrible murdering of his wife and children. Macbeth will die a tragic hero who loses his life due to his own greed.