Macbeth-Tyrant Or Tragic Hero?

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Macbeth-Tyrant or Tragic Hero?… Discuss

In analyzing whether ‘Macbeth’ should be considered a tyrant or a tragic hero I believe there is evidence throughout Shakespeare’s play to support both opposing arguments. In attempting to answer the question in greater detail I will focus in particular on the influence of the three Witches and of Lady Macbeth in shaping what takes place and what ultimately helps inform the actions and thoughts of Macbeth himself. As well as discussing these central characters and their roles I also intend to show how historical and social context can determine and elicit a potentially different response. I will also look at how the performance of the play itself is a key element in dictating whether an audience reacts to Macbeth as an essentially heroic figure or how they could be more inclined towards a more tyrannical viewpoint and understanding.
At he beginning of the play Macbeth is initially portrayed as a great, noble and brave hero. Our first impressions of him are reports back to King Duncan of his virtuosity in battle fighting for Scotland and the King against Norwegian forces and how his valor helps to turn the battle in the King’s favour.

“For brave Macbeth--well he deserves that name” {Act 1, Scene 2 line 19}

In this way we can see therefore that at the outset of the play the evidence to support the heroic nature of Shakespeare’s central character seems obvious. However as I will show, by the play’s end we see Macbeth’s character disintegrate and the title of hero becomes extremely difficult to justify.

As I have stated one of the fundamental elements dictating whether we should look at Macbeth as a tyrant or tragic hero is based around the role played by the witches. Although their actual time in the play is short their impact on the plot, characterization and themes of Shakespeare’s tragedy are enormous. When
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