“Shakespeare’s tragic hero is a man of noble birth who falls from a position of honor and respect due to a flaw in his character. He freely chooses a course of action which ultimately causes him suffering and brings him to a fatal end.” Macbeth is the epitome of a tragic hero who rises high then falls rock bottom to his death. Macbeth, once a noble man, follows the advice and future telling of witches, finds himself King, abuses his power and then gets killed. Macbeth goes through four stages until he reaches the end of his life; his original state, his tragic flaw, his downfall and finally his suffering. These four stages help to justify Shakespeare’s tragic hero.
Macbeth’s original state is noble yet frail and cowardly. In the beginning of Macbeth, we find Macbeth to be an anti-hero, one of no courage or strength in mind. One of whom can not make his own decisions without the aid of his wife, Lady Macbeth. However, Macbeth is likeable and people respect him for what he is. Although, a soldier on the outside, inside, we find Macbeth to be somewhat of a coward. When Macbeth encounters the witches, we find him to be quite afraid and unable to speak, while Banquo pleads for their answers. Macbeth takes the witches’ advice as an invitation to kill Duncan in order to uphold the position of king. Macbeth is too afraid to do it until his wife, Lady Macbeth, who plays a more masculine role then Macbeth himself, coaxes him to kill Duncan. “We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail…” (1.7.69-71). This is the turning point, the place where Macbeth makes a wrong turn into darkness, one he can not turn back. After killing Duncan without being caught, he becomes King and the problems start to occur.
Macbeth’s “position of honor and respect” is when he is King. In the wake of King Duncan’s murder, Macbeth is well liked and treated with respect by the people, but this soon changes as his character starts to shatter with the amount of power on his hands. In this second stage of Macbeth’s life, we find him to be stronger, yet he does not use his strength and bravery to good use. His new found strength mixes with his paranoia and his appetite for power creating him into a tyrant king. Macbeth’s next wrong turn is calling on murderers to kill Banquo because of fears that Banquo’s children will hold the throne. He calls the murderers with no fear and no worries. This time making the decision to kill Banquo on his own without the coaxing of Lady Macbeth. Without mentioning it to Lady Macbeth, the murderers carry on killing Banquo while Macbeth goes on. Yet, something is not right with Macbeth. This new found bravery and power in his character has turned into a flaw on Macbeth’s part. He is suddenly struck with guilt and overwhelming paranoia at his party as Banquo’s ghost makes an appearance to haunt Macbeth. “Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee. Thy bones are marrowless; they blood is cold; Thou hast no speculation in those eyes which thou dost glare with” (3.4.113-116). Macbeth turns into a king who is afraid of losing his power and being found out of killing both Duncan and Banquo. Macbeth tells himself that in order to keep his power he must kill anyone who gets in his way and that is what he does.
His suffering and his downfall “brings him to a fatal end”. As Macbeth continues to abuse his power and authority by killing people off, his people are starting to turn away from him. The Macbeth that they had once known is gone. And not because they speculate him of murder, but because Macbeth is going mad on the outside. Macbeth is suffering from his sinful deeds and everything that is said or done is taken as a threat to Macbeth or an accusation of murderer on Macbeth’s part. He is becoming another person, being eaten up by his own power-hungry self. The last straw for Malcolm, Ross and Macduff finally arrives when Macbeth sends his murderers to kill off Macduff’s wife and children. Macduff states with anger, ” This tune sings manly. Come, go we to the King. Our power is ready; Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth is ripe for shaking, and the powers above put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may. The night is long that never finds the day” (4.3.276-282). This then leads to the Scottish and English armies ganging up on Macbeth to steal him of his kingdom. Enraged with anger, Macbeth decides to fight the thousands of men who have come to overthrow and kill Macbeth. Suddenly, Macduff fights Macbeth and kills him to bring him to his fatal end.
Macbeth is the perfect example of a tragic hero. He goes through all the stages, such as a noble birth,(which leads to a position of great nobility and honor), to then committing sinful acts to catapult him into darkness. This darkness thus leading to his ultimate demise.