Aristotle defined a tragic hero as a character who errs in judgment, the result of some tragic flaw, and this error leads to his own destruction. The tragic hero usually starts from a place of relative goodness, as Macbeth does. He begins the play, described as "brave" and "valiant" (1.2.18, 1.2.26). His wife, arguably the person who knows him best, believes that he is "full o' th' milk of human kindness" (1.5.17). Macbeth's error is murdering his king, cousin, and friend, Duncan, as a result of his own tragic flaw: pride. When he considers his one reason to commit the murder, his "Vaulting ambition," he actually decides to "proceed no further" in the business of killing him (1.7.27, 1.7.34). It isn't until his wife wounds his pride, calling him a "coward" and claiming that she would never be so disloyal as to go back on something she had "sworn as [he] / Had done to this" that he relents and determines to move forward with the plot to commit regicide (1.7.47, 1.7.66-67). The tragedy is that a good man falls, becoming evil. If Macbeth were a monster to begin with, then killing the king (and everyone else) would only be in keeping with his character all along. Therefore, he is a tragic hero.
Popular QuestionsBrowse All
Latest answer posted January 14, 2020 at 4:07:33 AM
What does Lady Macbeth mean by the line "look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it"?
Latest answer posted November 23, 2020 at 10:50:09 AM
Latest answer posted March 18, 2020 at 9:13:52 AM
In Macbeth, for the quote "Let light not see my black deep desires," identify any language devices and analyze the quote.
Latest answer posted March 31, 2020 at 10:14:14 PM
Explain this quote from Macbeth: "Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums / and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you / have done to this."
Latest answer posted January 22, 2021 at 4:08:50 PM