Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald once said, “Show me a hero and l’ll write you a tragedy”. Decades apart, Fitzgerald did not know that he would be making a claim that William Shakespeare, the author of the play, Macbeth, had perfected before. According to Wayne C. Booth he would, “Take a good man, a noble man, a man admired by all who know him – and destroy him, not only physically and emotionally” (Booth 17). Shakespeare was shown a hero, Macbeth, and made his story into a tragedy resulting in Macbeth becoming a tragic hero. Macbeth is tragic hero because he has hamartia, hubris, and experiences peripeteia.
Hamartia, by definition, is the tragic flaw that causes the downfall of a hero. The tragic flaw that Macbeth possesses that leads him to his downfall is his constant need for power; Macbeth is power hungry. His major flaw lead him down wicked roads and eventually lead him to his death. His need for power pushes him to make one bad mistake after another. His first mistake was when he agreed to murder King Duncan and finished the act out. Even after he murders the King, he could still have been safe. Instead, he kept seeking out power and that brought him to his own destruction.
He kept murdering people that he elieved were a threat to his power. People became suspicious and started to turn against him. If he had not done anything else besides killing Duncan, he could have taken the throne and no one would have questioned him. He had the perfect plan because people believed that the King’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, murdered him. However, he ruined that perfect plan by his need for power. He kept becoming more vicious and others started to wondering if that truly happened, when no one use to think the lesser of Macbeth.
His actions that were fueled by his hunger for power caused people to turn against im and lead to his death. If Macbeth was not power hungry, then he could possibly still be alive. He could have still been the Thane of Cawdor and possibly never been king. He wouldn’t have a high status, but he would still be alive. He probably would have been content with being the Thane of Cawdor too if he had never met the witches. He would have believed that it was a true honor like he did when he was decided that he would not kill the King. I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / And falls on th’ other-” (I. vii. 5-28). “. Macbeth might have always been power hungry, but the witches’ idea brought out his major flaw. The few words, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! / All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! / All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter! ” (I. ii. 48-50). Started his way down from a noble man to the worst of them all. Hubris is the excessive pride and disrespect of hero for natural order and the ultimate sign of disrespect is murder.
Macbeth murdered several people in order to protect his seat at the throne, but there are two specific murders that Macbeth ommits that are of the utmost disrespect. The first murder was of the beloved King Duncan. King Duncan was gracious king and was loved by many. People adored him, even Macbeth. Macbeth speaks of his praise when he said, “He hath honored me of late, and I have bought / Golden opinions from all sorts of people, / Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, / Not cast aside so soon” (I. vii. 32-35).
Macbeth spoke to Lady Macbeth reminding her of the mercy and kindness that he showed him. He appointed him to an honorable position, which resulted in people looking among Macbeth more favorably. He was a hero n the eyes of many of the people that he ruled, including Macbeth. However, Macbeth disrespected King Duncan in a way no one else did. He murdered King Duncan with his bare hands. The murder is especially disrespectful because Macbeth did it himself, even though he had some assistance from his wife, he was still the one who committed the act of murder.
He took daggers and slit the throat of the man who just awarded him a prestigious position. Even though, he later regretted the murder. It can not undo the mistake that he made. The second murder that was incredibly disrespectful was the one of Macbeth’s trusted friend, Banquo. Banquo was dear to Macbeth’s heart and was there for him in the beginning. He was even there when the witches told Macbeth all of the great things that he would become, however, that ended up being the same reason that he died. Banquo his son.
His last living actions cause Banquo to be seen as hero through the eyes of the audience as well because, “His dying words are spoken in our presence, and they are unselfishly directed to saving his son” (Booth 22). Banquo knew that he was about to die, but rather than trying to save himself, he saves his son. Banquo is a hero and Macbeth disrespects him. Even though Macbeth does not commit the murder himself, the murder is just as disrespectful as King Duncan’s because the audience knows Banquo personally. It is more wicked to kill Banquo than to have killed Duncan” (Booth 22). The reasoning for this is because the audience knows more about Banquo. seen as a hero in the eyes of They have witnessed the goodness of Banquo rather than just hearing about it, which is the case for King Duncan. Macbeth sent out the order for Banquo to be murder, so even though he did not perform the deed himself, the blood is still on his hands. If Macbeth was not around, then Banquo would have lived longer. Macbeth experiences peripeteia, which is the reversal of fate that the hero experiences.
Macbeth decided the fate of others and others decided the fate of Macbeth. Macbeth took it upon himself to play the role of God and decide who was going to live and who was going to die. He decided the fate of King Duncan, Banquo, Macduff’s wife and children, and others. Macbeth figured that they were obstacles in the way and decided it was in his best interest to remove them from his path. Macbeth did not need help to come up with ideas on how to chieve his goals, he always has that idea in the back of his mind.
The idea of playing dirty was not new to Macbeth, “When the play begins, he has already coveted the crown, as is shown by his excessively nervous reaction to the witches’ prophecy; it is indeed likely that he has already consider foul means of obtaining it” (Booth 18). Even though M he coveted the crown, Macbeth did not always think that he was destined for the throne. However, it did not take much for him to get completely on board with the idea. Once the idea was planted, he took charge of it. Macbeth thought that the highest power that he ould amount to would Thane of Glamis.
When he is moved up to the position of Thane of Cawdor, he allowed the words of the witches to get into his mind and cloud his focus. Rather than being grateful for his new appointed job, he focussed on trying to fulfil the rest of his prophecy from the witches. He takes King Duncan’s fate in his own hands, which resulted in someone else taking the fate of Macbeth into their own hands. He determined the fate of someone else and later in the story, someone would decide the fate of Macbeth. Macbeth murdered King Duncan, in retribution Macbeth is murdered.