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Macbeth-Response To Aristotle's Tragic Hero

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Shakespeare uses Aristotle's ancient description of a tragic hero - a character between good and bad - to portray the protagonist in the tragedy Macbeth. Aristotle's theory that tragedy must evoke pity or fear from the audience can be done effectively through an everyman character. In order to appeal to the audience and bring forth some empathy, Macbeth must show his righteous morals through his own soliloquies or through other characters' lines. Macbeth's changing attitude is influenced not only by Lady Macbeth's convincing words, but also too by his mind, which is only human and therefore subject to temptation. Macbeth does however reach a turning point where he becomes so radical and paranoid that he can no longer find his moral conscience.

Macbeth's righteous mind is most clearly visible in his first soliloquy in which he debates whether or not to kill the old king Duncan. Macbeth distinctly reveals his tragic flaw as "Vaulting ambition, which overleaps itself/And falls on the other."(I, vii, 27-28). Macbeth's decisions are continuously influenced by Lady Macbeth and her overdriving ambition to become Queen of Scotland. Macbeth knows that in the past he has had spurts of motivation that were fueled by his wife's encouragement, but when left alone he could piece together his thoughts and discover what was right. Macbeth evokes empathy from the audience during his moral debate because he expresses concerns and feelings of temptation and guilt, which are feelings experienced by everyone. After Macbeth convinces himself that he will not kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth needs only to attack his manhood and he easily agrees to do the deed again. This weakness on Macbeth's part does not help him to win over the audience and yet it does not turn them away either. Even after Duncan's murder when Macbeth displays human characteristics by feeling guilty and paranoid, the audience still does not turn on him. It is when Macbeth realizes that he has escaped punishment for the murder and that Banquo and Fleance are threats to the throne that the audience turns against him. Macbeth displays fear and paranoia, "Better be with the dead,/ Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,/ Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy"(III, ii, 22-25), when he plots to kill Banquo and Fleance.



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