English / Macbeth-Response To Aristotle'S Tragic Hero

Macbeth-Response To Aristotle'S Tragic Hero

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Autor:  anton  03 November 2010
Tags:  Macbeth,  response,  Aristotles,  Tragic
Words: 658   |   Pages: 3
Views: 423

Shakespeare uses Aristotle’s ancient description of a tragic hero - a character between good and bad - to portray the protagonist in the tragedy Macbeth. Aristotle’s theory that tragedy must evoke pity or fear from the audience can be done effectively through an everyman character. In order to appeal to the audience and bring forth some empathy, Macbeth must show his righteous morals through his own soliloquies or through other characters’ lines. Macbeth’s changing attitude is influenced not only by Lady Macbeth’s convincing words, but also too by his mind, which is only human and therefore subject to temptation. Macbeth does however reach a turning point where he becomes so radical and paranoid that he can no longer find his moral conscience.

Macbeth’s righteous mind is most clearly visible in his first soliloquy in which he debates whether or not to kill the old king Duncan. Macbeth distinctly reveals his tragic flaw as “Vaulting ambition, which overleaps itself/And falls on the other.”(I, vii, 27-28). Macbeth’s decisions are continuously influenced by Lady Macbeth and her overdriving ambition to become Queen of Scotland. Macbeth knows that in the past he has had spurts of motivation that were fueled by his wife’s encouragement, but when left alone he could piece together his thoughts and discover what was right. Macbeth evokes empathy from the audience during his moral debate because he expresses concerns and feelings of temptation and guilt, which are feelings experienced by everyone. After Macbeth convinces himself that he will not kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth needs only to attack his manhood and he easily agrees to do the deed again. This weakness on Macbeth’s part does not help him to win over the audience and yet it does not turn them away either. Even after Duncan’s murder when Macbeth displays human characteristics by feeling guilty and paranoid, the audience still does not turn on him. It is when Macbeth realizes that he has escaped punishment for the murder and that Banquo and Fleance are threats to the throne that the audience turns against him. Macbeth displays fear and paranoia, “Better be with the dead,/ Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,/ Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy”(III, ii, 22-25), when he plots to kill Banquo and Fleance. Macbeth wants to murder two more people to ensure that he stays as king, even though the prophecies will most likely be fulfilled for Banquo as they were for him. Macbeth is trying to dely a fate that he now knows is inevitable and the audience’s righteous mind abandons any of their good thoughts about him. Macbeth’s almost villainous attitude brings out the worst in him as he does not look back to recover his conscience and continues to forge ahead in his murderous plots and deeds.

Shakespeare’s use of hallucinations and spiritual beings suggest that Macbeth does have free-will, but that there is still determinism in the play. In the “dagger scene” (Act II, scene i), Shakespeare adds no stage directions for the dagger, which leads the reader to interpret this as an internal agent in Macbeth’s mind expressing that he does have some free-will and choice over his actions. When Banqou’s ghost appears Shakespeare does provide stage directions and the reader can be lead to believe that this is an external agent, placed in the scene by some outside force such as the Weird Sisters. This external agent displays the determinism in Macbeth and the reader is left to interpret whether or not the dagger is actually an external agent placed in Macbeth’s mind by the high powers of the witches or if he has some control over his actions and he is not just an instrument of fate. In this case one must ask oneself whether or not Macbeth can be held accountable for any of his actions and if he is only a human kneeling to the weaknesses of the mind.

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