Tragic flaw of macbeth essay

Macbeth’s Tragic Flaw Essay

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Ambition is a strong desire to do or achieve a goal. The extent of such ambition is easily influenced by other inner factors, such as gullibility because it allows the mind to believe in things that will bring them closer to their ambitious goals. In William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Macbeth, the protagonist Macbeth, is a representation of such gullibility. Macbeth allows his gullibility to overwhelm him in certain situations that appeal to his ambition. However, the increasing levels of his gullibility throughout the play would lead him to his own isolation and downfall. For instance, by meeting the witches and listening to their prophecy, he slowly begins to believe the prophecy which affects his decision-making in the future. In addition, the influence Lady Macbeth has over Macbeth allows her to manipulate him to believing her plan for murder.

Furthermore, by believing in the apparitions’ three messages, Macbeth essentially greets his end at the door by having a false sense of security. As a result, Macbeth, who was once a hero, slumped down to become a murderous and tyrant king. However, Macbeth is not at fault for his unfortunate transformation. Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his ambition, which is heavily influenced by his gullibility because it eventually exploits enough of his ambition that causes his isolation and downfall. Macbeth’s gradual isolation is caused by his gullibility exploiting his ambition from his initial encounter with the three witches and their prophecy. The prophecy is the root of Macbeth’s isolation and downfall as the witches predict that Macbeth is the Thane of Cawdor, and King of Scotland. As the witches vanish, the two exchange dialogue with each other, “Your children shall be kings./ You shall be king./ And Thane of Cawdor too. Went it not so?” (1.3.89-91).

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Though Macbeth and Banquo both took it lightly as the claims held no evidence to back them up, the encounter ultimately implanted the idea of Macbeth becoming king in the future. By having the idea of this ambition within him, it leads into the next situation where his ambition begins to bloom. Ross and Angus arrive and greet Macbeth as the Thane of Cawdor. While Macbeth is astonished, Banquo warns him that such messages, “tell us truths,/ Win us with honest trifles, to betray ‘s./ In deepest consequence.” (1.3.134-138). On the other hand, Macbeth completely disregards Banquo’s warnings and displays his gullibility as he continues to mumble to himself about the prophecy holding true. But, he is foolish to do so as he bases his accusation off of the statement, “Two truths are told” (1.3.140). Afterwards, his ambition is revealed as he strives to be king.

As a result, both his gullibility and ambition intertwine and start his path to isolation and downfall. Eventually, Macbeth becomes king after a series of events, and he fulfills a part of the prophecy. By letting his ambition engulf himself, his ambition soon becomes the desire to secure power. As his gullibility grew, so did his ambition. He believes in the second part of the prophecy of Banquo having sons who will be kings by declaring Banquo as a threat to his power and orders his murder. This action solidifies the idea that Macbeth’s ambition strengthens his gullibility towards the prophecy as he desires to maintain his power. By believing that Banquo is a threat, he eliminates him to prevent any threat to his ambitious goal of securing power. This only continued to grow throughout the play after several murders of “threats” until his eventual demise. As a result, by hearing the witches’ prophecy, it allows his gullibility to exploit his ambition that will influence his future actions leading to his isolation and downfall. Macbeth spiraled further toward his downfall as he was foolish to allow Lady Macbeth to pick on his ambition, leading to his gullibility of the plan to kill Duncan. Macbeth’s flaw of being gullible allows Lady Macbeth to bombard him with accusations and comments that changes Macbeth’s original decision to not kill Duncan. To be more specific, the first thing Lady Macbeth addresses before Macbeth falters in the end is his inconsistency and cowardice. She states that he is inconsistent because he mentioned how hopeful he was when he heard of the prophecy, but then he concedes from chasing after his ambition. By attacking him personally by saying that he is a coward for, “Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’,” (1.7.48-49), she instigates Macbeth into defending himself and making him more susceptible to persuasion. Instead of holding his ground on the decision of not killing Duncan, he slowly loses his ground as continues to be attacked. This easily leads into Lady Macbeth’s next tactic of attacking Macbeth’s manhood because Macbeth lived in a chivalrous society where men were symbols of manhood. By attacking Macbeth’s manhood, she is implying that Macbeth has become a lesser man. Furthermore, she adds on, “And to be more than you were, you would/ Be so much more the man.” (1.7.57-58). She implies that by murdering
Duncan, he will become a greater man. This sets the stage for Lady Macbeth’s final tactic before Macbeth succumbs to her persuasiveness. To fully persuade Macbeth, Lady Macbeth exclaims to Macbeth of how effortless the plan of killing Duncan is. By doing this, she continues to appeal to Macbeth’s ambition of becoming king and how he can easily obtain the throne. His gullibility takes over as he eventually gives in and goes on with the plan. Therefore, though Macbeth was stern on not killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth persuades him through his gullibility and ambition to kill Duncan, which adds on to his downfall. Macbeth’s actions after his encounter with the three summoned apparitions exposes his gullibility and ambition as they influence Macbeth to put the final stake in his own downfall. During his second visit to the witches, they summoned three apparitions, each representing something that would prove significant later on. Macbeth’s gullibility shines when he believes in the three apparitions with no questions asked. At first, he was told by the first apparition to be wary of Macduff. Since Macbeth assumed that this meant Macduff was a threat to his overflowing ambition, he believed in their message and decided to send murderers to Macduff’s castle and eliminate the household. Macbeth, again, solidifies his image of a tyrant king by resorting to murders to take care of threats to his ambitious goal, further propelling him towards his downfall. The second message was that, “none of woman born/ Shall harm Macbeth” (4.1.91-92). Macbeth started flaunting that his castle would be able to fend off a siege from the English forces led by Malcolm. However, most of his soldiers left and joined the other side of the forces because of his obsession with power. This indicates that he was slowly becoming more isolated as soldiers continuously left. Furthermore, his inevitable end was soon to come as he met face-to-face with Macduff. While believing the first two messages, Macbeth became reluctant to fight Macduff because Macbeth’s, “soul is too much charge” with killing Macduff’s family. But, the second apparition’s message was misinterpreted as Macduff was not born of woman. This resulted in Macbeth being scared, displaying that his gullibility in the messages proved false and threatened his ambitious goals.. Next, the final message was that, “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/ Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/ Shall come against him.” (4.1.105-108). By believing in the third apparition’s message, he ignored all the reports
of enemies near his castle. However, that message was misinterpreted, as so did the others, as the trees were “moving” towards the castle. As a result, by assuming literally that the trees themselves could not move, he had let his castle be surrounded by the English force, ultimately losing everything. Therefore, in believing the messages from the apparitions, Macbeth’s ambition fed his gullibility, leading him to turn a blind eye on situations which normally would be looked upon. All of which led to his demise. Due to Macbeth’s trait of gullibility, it exposed his ambition multiple times throughout the play, causing him to take actions that would amplify his isolation and downfall. By meeting the witches and listening to their prophecy, Macbeth had begun his spiral downwards by letting his ambition consume him and killing Banquo. In addition, by giving into Lady Macbeth’s persuasiveness, his transformation from a respected nobleman to a murderer added onto his isolation. Lastly, by listening to the apparitions’ messages, Macbeth induced a false sense of security for himself which led him to eventual demise. In the end, Macbeth’s isolation and inevitable downfall was brought upon by his own gullibility and ambition.

Tragic flaw of macbeth essay

In The Poetics, Aristotle thoroughly analyzes Greek tragedies and comes to a conclusion that tragic dramas should involve a heroic protagonist with a vulnerable weakness or frailty. This weakness is known as hamartia, or more commonly called the “tragic flaw.” The protagonist’s hamartia hinders the person’s progress and through a series of events, ultimately leads to the protagonist’s downfall. Although Aristotle used the word hamartia for Greek tragedy, it can be found in many later works of literature, such as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this play about a Scottish king, the unfortunate character Macbeth carries the tragic flaw, or rather, flaws, which involve his tremendous guilt, ambition, and his gullibility, that lead him to his downfall.

Shakespeare does a magnificent job by using Macbeth to show the terrible consequences that can result from an unchecked ambition and a guilty conscience. Those elements, combined with a lack of strong character, distinguish Macbeth from Shakespeare’s other tragic heroes, such as King Lear and Richard III, both of whom are strong enough to overcome their guilty conscience. Before Macbeth murders Duncan, he is plagued with anxiety and almost does not go along with the plan. It takes his wife, Lady Macbeth’s persuasion in order to complete the plot. When is about to kill Duncan, Macbeth sees a dagger covered in blood floating in the air, representing the bloody course he is about to take. After Duncan is murdered, however, her power-hungry personality begins to fade and Macbeth becomes more and more bloodthirsty. He fluctuates between moments of fervent killing and times of extreme guilt, as shown when Banquo’s ghost appears to him during a dinner party. Macbeth speaks to the apparition, who is invisible to the rest of the guests. The ghost disappears soon after Lady Macbeth asks Macbeth to snap out of his trance. As he offers a toast to the company however, Banquo’s ghost reappears and shocks Macbeth. Soon afterwards, the ghost vanishes and Macbeth is relieved: “Why, so; being gone, I am a man again. (III. iv. 107-108)” This encounter pierces his conscience and becomes a gruesome reminder that he murdered his former friend. Both instances of hallucinations are uncanny signs of Macbeth’s guilt.

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When Macbeth is first told by the three hags that he shall soon become the Thane of Cawdor and king, he is very skeptical and hesitates to believe their prophecy. However, once King Duncan delivers the news that he shall become the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth’s desire for power skyrockets. This ambitious nature prevents him from becoming aware of when to stop because he is never fully satisfied. Macbeth’s judgment is impaired since he only agrees to the ideas that will benefit him in obtaining his desires. In his twenty-eight lined soliloquy, Macbeth expresses his doubts and fears about killing Duncan, and admits that the only thing motivating him to do so is his “vaulting ambition. (I. vii. 27)” Macbeth also claims that he has already gone so far that stopping his murderous acts is now not an option; he must continue doing what he’s doing: “I am in blood, stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er. (III. iv. 135-137)” His dangerous ambition seems to have no boundaries and he does whatever it takes to secure his place to the throne. At the opening of the play, the three witches prophesy to Macbeth and Banquo that Banquo will be the “father” of many kings. Upon remembering this event, Macbeth becomes uneasy and feels that “to be thus (or king) is nothing, but to be safely thus – our fears in Banquo stick deep and in his royalty of nature reigns that which would be feared (III. i. 49-51)” In order to solve this problem, Macbeth plans to have Banquo and his son Fleance murdered. Their deaths are an example of Macbeth’s uncontrollable ambition, because Banquo went from being Macbeth’s best companion to his worst enemy. These killings eventually turn into a slippery slope as Macbeth commits one murder after the other. After finding out from the apparitions presented to him by the three witches that Macduff will be indeed another real threat, Macbeth has his whole family brutally slaughtered. The death of Macduff’s family is also an example of Macbeth’s dangerous ambition.

Gullibility, combined with guilt and ambition, is Macbeth’s third and final tragic flaw. He allows himself to completely trust the three witches’ premonitions and believes that it was the hags that gave him his good fortune and not fate. When the three hags were giving Banquo and Macbeth a glimpse of their future, Macbeth was the one who easily trusted the hags’ prophecies while Banquo thinks “’tis strange: and oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence. (I. iii. 122-126)” Macbeth fully trusts that the witches are a source of good fortune, but is too ignorant to realize that the witches are evil beings. This leads him to lose all his belief in the natural order of things, thus causing him to become distant from the other people in his life. Macbeth also displays his gullibility when he consults with the hags a second time. The witches convince Macbeth that he will not be killed by a person who was not woman-born, which causes Macbeth to think he is invincible: “Laugh to scorn the pow’r of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth. (IV. i. 79-81)” This act of easily believing what the witches prophesied eventually leads Macbeth to his death when Macduff, who was “ripped from his mother’s womb,” stabs Macbeth in the battlefield at the end of the play.

Unlike many other heroes in classic literature, whose flaws involve arrogance and pride, Macbeth’s ambitious nature is was not exactly harmful or considered a bad thing in any way until his uncontrolled ambition and inability to remain emotionally tough after committing the crimes was met with his gullibility. This fatal combination turned Macbeth into almost a madman, motivated solely by lust for fame and power. It is exactly his great ambition and extreme gullibility that ultimately leads him to his demise. Macbeth, an individual who started out at the beginning as an honest and loyal soldier, becomes a murderous human being because of his flaws in character, thus making this play one of the greatest tragedies in the world of literature.

What was Macbeth’s tragic flaw, how does it lead to his doom, and is it helped along by the ladies of the play?

Quick Answer

Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his ambition to become king. When the witches first prophesy that Macbeth might take the throne, his fearful reaction shows that he has already been thinking about how badly he wants to do so—and he is startled, and intrigued, to think that it might be possible. This ambition is definitely helped along by Lady Macbeth, who might even crave power more than Macbeth does. Eventually, this ambition, coupled with his wife’s encouragement of it, leads Macbeth to embark on a path of murder (first of King Duncan, and then of perceived threats) and paranoid rule.

Expert Answers

Macbeth’s fatal flaw in the play is unchecked ambition, that is a desire for power and position, namely to be king, which is more important to him than anything else in life. He is willing to give up everything that he has in his life in order to possess the crown to sit on the throne.

Yes, the ladies in the play do have something to do with it. The ladies include, the witches, the.

Macbeth’s fatal flaw in the play is unchecked ambition, that is a desire for power and position, namely to be king, which is more important to him than anything else in life. He is willing to give up everything that he has in his life in order to possess the crown to sit on the throne.

Yes, the ladies in the play do have something to do with it. The ladies include, the witches, the three in the beginning, as well as the queen of the witches, Hecate, and Lady Macbeth.

What happens to Macbeth is a combination of events that lead to the opportunity to seize power. He is influenced by the women in the play, the witches, who give him a prophecy that contains information that he will be king of Scotland. The witches don’t give him a time table for his ascension to the throne, just that his future holds this for him.

«The witches in Macbeth are present in only four scenes in the play, but Macbeth’s fascination with them motivates much of the play’s action.»

He becomes so thrilled with the idea that he will be king, that he begins to think that he should be king right now. Even though he has been a loyal servant to King Duncan, he becomes angry when he sees the king elevate his son Malcolm and proclaim him as the heir apparent to the throne of Scotland.

Macbeth is also influenced by his wife, Lady Macbeth. In fact after Macbeth has thought about killing King Duncan, and had time to consider the witches prophecy, he decides that he doesn’t want to kill the king. Then once he tells his wife about the prophecy, she becomes so thrilled with the idea of being queen that she begs and pleads with him to convince him that he should kill the king, that he will have a singular opportunity when the king visits their home that evening. It is perfect, she says, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

«The extent of Lady Macbeth’s power over her husband is debated. Some critics blame Lady Macbeth for precipitating Macbeth’s moral decline and ultimate downfall. Others argue that, while Lady Macbeth appears to be increasingly guilt-ridden as the play progresses as evidenced by her sleepwalking episodes, Macbeth becomes increasingly murderous.»

Then, she actually insults him, demeans him, accuses him of being less than a man if he doesn’t have the courage to kill the king. She is so vicious towards Macbeth that he finally agrees to kill the king.

Once he does kill the king, he begins to unravel, mentally and emotionally. As a king, he is stricken with a serious case of paranoia. He believes that everyone is trying to kill him to take his throne, so he keeps murdering. First he gets rid of Banquo, unfortunately, the killers don’t kill Fleance, who is e Banquo’s son. Then after he goes to see the witches again, he is given another set of prophecies, and he decides to kill Macduff. He sends murders to kill Macduff, he is not at home, so the murderers kill his entire family instead.

All of Macbeth’s activities as king contribute to his doom or his undoing. He is a terrible king, a tyrant who is feared. Malcolm, the rightful heir to the throne, joins forces with Macduff and the King of England who provides soldiers. Macbeth is confronted by Macduff, the only man capable of killing him, and he is killed and Malcolm is put on the throne.