Tragic Hero or a Tyrant?

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Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most emotive plays, is set in Scotland during the 11th Century and follows the downfall of a man who is led by temptation to mass murder and cruelty. Macbeth, at different stages in the play, demonstrates many of the characteristics of both an evil tyrant and a tragic hero. However, a tragic hero is defined as a great man who falls because of a fatal flaw and Macbeth bests fits this description. Therefore Macbeth fits the role of a tragic hero and not a tyrant. In Aristotle's "Poeticus", an ancient Greek drama, the definition of a tragic hero includes several criteria. Firstly, the character must be important and his actions must affect many people. Secondly, the character must be good-natured, well known, respected and brave and of good repute. The third criterion is that the character must have one tragic flaw, which leads to his downfall. Last of all, the tragic hero must redeem himself despite his flaw and eventually create sympathy for the character. Macbeth is presented at the start of the play as a noble man, one full of all the good qualities a man could desire - bravery, strength, loyalty, manliness and health. In Act 1 Scene 2, Macbeth is talked of as a heroic warrior that "brandished steel which smoked with bloody execution". Many other characters in the play also see Macbeth as a honourable man, with the King acknowledging this with comments such as "O valiant cousin, worthy Gentleman". Indeed, if Macbeth did not display these characteristics, then the title of Thane of Cawdor would not have been bestowed upon him in the first place. Already, Macbeth is appearing to fit the criteria for a tragic hero, as he is of good repute and is respected, brave, and honourable. As well, his actions have so far affected many people, as he has saved Scotland from invasion and played a large part in a battle (another criteria of a
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