Macbeth's Tragic Flaw Essay

964 words - 4 pages

Sometimes a tragic hero is created, not through his own villainy),but rather through some flaw in him, he being one of those who are in highstation and good fortune, like Oedipus and Thyestes and the famous men ofsuch families as those.' (Poetics, Aristotle). Every great tragedy isdominated by a protagonist who has within himself a tragic flaw, too much ortoo little of one of Aristotle's twelve virtues. In Macbeth, by WilliamShakespeare, Macbeth, a great Scottish general and thane of Glamis, has justwon an important battle, when he is told by three witches that he will becomethane of Cawdor and then king of Scotland. After Macbeth is given Cawdor byKing Duncan, he takes the witches words for truth and conspires againstDuncan with his wife. When Duncan comes to Macbeth's castle that night,Macbeth kills him and takes the crown for himself after Duncan's sons fleefrom Scotland. Then Macbeth reigns for a while, has several people killed,and is eventually slain by Macduff when he and Malcolm return leading thearmies of England. Often people read the play and automatically concludethat Macbeth's tragic flaw is his ambition; that he is compelled to commitso many acts of violence by his lust for power. However, by carefullyexamining the first act, one can determine the defect in Macbeth's characterthat creates his ambition; his true tragic flaw. Macbeth's tragic flaw isnot his ambition as most people believe, but rather his trust in the words ofthe witches and in his wife's decisions. At the beginning of the play Macbeth has no designs on the throne,and he does not start plotting until his wife comes up with a plan. Whenfirst faced with the witches' words, Macbeth expresses astonishment anddisbelief rather than welcoming them when he says, '...to be King stands notwithin the prospect of belief, no more than to be Cawdor....'(1.3.73-75).When confronted with the witches' proclamation that he is to be king, Macbethresponds as a loyal subject would; not as a man with secret aspirations inhis heart. He has no reason to hide his true feelings at this point sotherefore it can be assumed that Macbeth has not yet truly considered killingthe king. Even after the first of the witches' predictions comes true,Macbeth does not plot against the king but instead decides to leave it tochance. '(Aside) If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me,Without my stir.'(1.3.143-144). Macbeth has already been granted the titleof thane of Cawdor, but still he acts as though a loyal subject would. Hislack of ambition is stressed here by the fact that the actor is speaking thethoughts of the character rather than words that the character says aloud.It is Macbeth's wife that decides to convince her husband to kill Duncanafter she has learned what has happened, 'Glamis thou art, and Cawdor,...

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