Is Macbeth a Tragic Hero?

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In any piece of literature a tragic hero must fulfil several criteria. These are: the play must be concerned with the main character, who must be of noble birth and have positive qualities, and must possess a fatal flaw. Along with flaws, outside forces must intervene to bring about his downfall. Finally the protagonist must die at the end of the play. The aim of this essay is to determine whether or not Macbeth is a tragic hero based on these requirements. The first criteria of a tragic hero is that the hero must be of noble birth. We are told in Act 1 Scene 2 of Macbeth’s high position on the society ladder. Duncan describes him “O valiant cousin, worthy gentlemen!” Right away it is evident that Duncan thinks very highly of Macbeth, as he goes on to say “Our captains Macbeth and Banquo.” This shows us that Macbeth is in a very high position in the military as well as in society. Duncan finally states that “I have begun to plant thee and will labour to make thee full of growing.” Macbeth is being referred to here as a seed that’s full of potential and with Duncan’s help could flourish and blossom into something magnificent. Again this shows the amount of respect that Duncan has for Macbeth. In addition to his high birth Macbeth has some very positive qualities. One of which was his undying bravery. A soldier describes Macbeth as “Brave Macbeth…Like valour’s minion.” The soldier is implying that Macbeth only works for honour and loyalty. Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth, also states “…yet I do fear thy nature./ It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness.” This is simply saying that Macbeth is very kind but also capable of immense bravery. A fatal flaw is required in the hero to cause his eventual downfall. Macbeth’s most predominant flaw is his enormous ambition. As soon as the witches tell him he would be the thane of Cawdor and then the king, he was sceptical
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