The Tragedy of Macbeth Shakespeare is perhaps most noted for his tragic plays. He has written many great tragedies, one, which was written in 1606 and was titled Macbeth. A tragedy is the story of a great person whose character flaw eventually leads to his downfall. Macbeth’s flaw is his ambition, which he shares with his wife. There are also many incidents in the play that support the idea of the tragedy being the deterioration of its main character Macbeth. Macbeth is a tragedy in which human actions have unavoidable consequences, where the character’s mistakes are never forgiven or reconciled.
It is a tragedy because Macbeth is overly ambitious, and also, because he is too easily persuaded to do things he knows are immoral and unethical. The first example of Macbeth’s lack of self control is apparent in act one, scene three. The three witches approach Macbeth and Banquo, who are returning home from a victorious battle. The witches deliver to Macbeth and Banquo strange prophecies and advice. After the witches vanish, Ross bestows upon Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth then believes the witches’ prophecies. Banquo questions the prophecies and assures Macbeth that it may just be a coincidence.
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Macbeth fails to consider Banquo’s observation and says, “Two truths are told/ […] This supernatural soliciting/ cannot be ill […], If ill,/ why hath it given me earnest of success,/ commencing in a truth? “(1. 3. 127-132). These words give evidence of Macbeth being unable to grasp reality. He is too easily persuaded to do things he knows are wrong. Another factor that affects Macbeth being able to make his own decisions is his wife, Lady Macbeth. She uses many tactics to persuade Macbeth, including questioning his status as a man.
Although he can be persuaded to carry out ruthless deeds, there is evidence of Macbeth having a conscience and being in doubt: “If we should fail? “(1. 7. 59). Lady Macbeth counters this by saying, “We fail? / But screw your courage to the sticking place,/ and we’ll not fail” (1. 7. 60-61). The strong words of Lady Macbeth reassure her husband. He is soon relieved of any doubts and is, again, confident in his decisions. This is another example of how easily Macbeth can be persuaded to do things he knows are immoral. The last example of Macbeth’s lack of self control is evident when he seeks out the three witches in act four, scene one.
Macbeth is uneasy regarding the initial prophecies. He hopes visiting the witches will clarify his clouded mind. When he arrives, demanding answers, the witches have assembled to meet him, and promise to answer his questions. The witches then reveal to him apparitions that serve more as riddles than as answers. Their magic apparitions comfort his at first, and then give cause for alarm: “Why do you show me this? […]/ What, will the line stretch out to th’crack of doom? / […] I’ll see no more”(4. 1. 115-117). This quote shows that Macbeth has been easily persuaded, yet again, to believe something of which he has no knowledge.
In conclusion, Macbeth can be considered a tragedy because of Macbeth’s overly ambitious personality, and also, because of his tendencies to be very easily persuaded. He was persuaded by the three witches in the beginning of the play. He was not only easily persuaded by them once, but again a second time. Even important people in his life can easily persuade him, including his wife. Shakespeare has written many great tragedies, and Macbeth can definitely be considered one of them. Work Cited Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Toronto: Oxford University. Press, 2002