Macbeth Essay

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Macbeth Critical Essay In Shakespeare's play: "Macbeth", the character of Macbeth is the epitome of the tragic hero brought down by his own fatal flaw. Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero states that: the character must be of noble birth or have an admirable character (in Macbeth's case he is a Scottish Lord and is portrayed as loyal at the start of the play); the character must have a fatal flaw within him which eventually leads to his downfall (Macbeth's fatal flaw is his "vaulting ambition") and finally the character must create catharsis (pity and fear) as the character's actions result in an increase in self-awareness and self-knowledge (Macbeth begins to realise his mistakes towards the end of the play). All these attributes of Macbeth's character make him fit the mould of Aristotle's tragic hero. In accordance with Aristotle's description of a tragic hero, Macbeth is an admirable character and of noble birth. Shakespeare portrays this attribute of Macbeth's character through the things other characters say about him. The first Act of the play begins with reports from battle to King Duncan about Macbeth. He is called "Brave Macbeth" by the Captain and "valiant cousin" and "worthy gentleman" by King Duncan. The Captain takes it further and describes Macbeth's heroic actions in battle: "Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel Which smoked with bloody execution, Like Valour's minion, carved his passage Till he faced the slave." The Captain describes Macbeth as he wields his sword ("brandished steel") and boldly slays men on the battlefield ("carved out his passage") until he stands and face to face with the traitor ("faced the slave"). The word choice of "Disdaining Fortune" suggests that he cared nothing for luck or good fortune. Fortune, being the goddess of
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