Macbeth is a butcher.” Discuss this statement exploring the ideas of Macbeth as a tragic hero and that the murder may or may not be entirely his fault.
In your answer consider the role of the witches, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s indecision and his fatal flaw, ambition. You must support your answer with specific reference to and quotes from the play.The play, “Macbeth” by Shakespeare is entirely focused on the main character, Macbeth. In this play there are many complex themes and symbols that ties in with Macbeth’s character. One particular debate is on whether Macbeth’s a tragic hero or a “butcher”.
This is a particularly difficult topic to discuss as Macbeth’s character constantly fluctuates as the play progresses. Despite many actions taken by Macbeth are seen as tyrannical and evil, he is nevertheless a typical Shakespearean hero. He is courageous, sympathetic, trapped by his own imagination and guilt, has a weakness that leads to his downfall and is driven by forces beyond his control. Macbeth embodies all the characteristics of a tragic hero. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is seen as a “brave”, “noble” and “valiant” man. He was described as “Bellona’s bridegroom” (ACT 1 SCENE 2) He fought hard in the battle for Duncan and has earned many people’s respect. He was seen as a hero.
Later on, he meets the three witches who hail Macbeth as the “Thane of Glamis” whom he is at the present, “Thane of Cawdor” and “who shall be king thereafter” (ACT 1 SCENE 3). Macbeth is intrigued by their prophesies and when the second was fulfilled he, like many mere mortals start to ponder at the possibility of becoming king. He says, “If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me/without my stir”. (ACT 1 SCENE 3) This line shows that Macbeth ponders on the possibility of becoming king. Notice that he’s already starting to formulate a plot and the idea of murder is already in his mind.
The witches did not say that he is to murder Duncan; Macbeth is the one who thinks of murder. He is motivated in his conduct by a desire for honors. These thoughts or “mind’s construction” (ACT 1 SCENE 5) are all formulated from his one weakness, ambition. Ambition plays a big role in the downfall of Macbeth.
Macbeth is a man of high ambitions, who even describes himself, as having a “Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,” (ACT 1 SCENE 7) The only character that can match his flaw, is Lady Macbeth. She is the main driving force behind Macbeth’s actions. It was she, who provoked Macbeth by mocking his manhood. In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth was reluctant to commit the crime as he says to Lady Macbeth “We will proceed my further in this business” (ACT 1 SCENE 7) but she counters by mocking him and asking if he’d “live a coward in thine own esteem” (ACT 1 SCENE 7). It’s her repeated questioning of his manhood, which causes him to commit the murder in order to prove himself.After murdering Duncan, Macbeth is appalled and horrified by what he has done.
He is repulsed by the blood on his hands; “ What hands are here! Ha!.