Characterizing Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play Essay

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Characterizing Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play

In the closing scene of Macbeth, act 5 scene IX, Malcolm makes the final description of Macbeth in the play when he calls him a "dead butcher". This description is a controversial and much debated one as people have divided opinions concerning him. Some perceive him as a ruthless and barbaric "fiend of Scotland", whereas I, like many others, find him to be a tragic hero. Both of these views are very contrasting and so it would seem that the answer should be evident but this is not the case as both cases have convincing arguments to support them.

A tragic hero can be defined as someone whose downfall affects many people. This is very true of
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He feels insecure and paranoid which surely are not traits of an evil "butcher" who would be predominantly self-confident? In the soliloquy in act 5 scene 5 where Macbeth has just heard the news of the death of his wife, he says "Out, out, brief candle!/Life's but a walking shadow" he is showing humility and severe depression which is even resulting in his loss for the will to live. He also comments that "she should have died hereafter", the word "hereafter" signifying his realisation of the real loss in his life.

Another trait of a tragic hero is someone whose greatness of character is lost through circumstance. This is an accurate description of Macbeth's tragic life. Macbeth was a very highly regarded person who had been honoured by King Duncan and made both Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor. He was a man of action and a fearless warrior who defended his king against treachery. Various people speak highly of him, in particular Duncan who refers to him in act 1 scene 2 as "valiant", "worthy" and "noble". All of these admirable qualities were wasted through circumstance. It is these circumstances that bare the question 'what if'? What if Lady Macbeth didn't read the letter and immediately plot murder? Or what if

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