Was Macbeth too much a victim to be a full tragic hero? Was he too manipulated by the Witches, Lady Macbeth, and fate (to be considered a tragic hero)?

Essay by glycerinHigh School, 10th grade February 2003

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The play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy about a Scottish lord, Macbeth, who becomes too ambitious. He starts off as a brave, loyal and noble man, but his ambition and thirst for power lead him onto a path of ruthlessness and self-destruction, and ultimately his own death. While Macbeth is manipulated by various people and occurrences, the main ones being the witches, Lady Macbeth and Fate, one theme that remains constant throughout the play is the power of choice. Macbeth does have the ability to choose, and it is this ability that makes him a tragic hero, not a victim.

There are certain characteristics that someone must have in order to be considered a full tragic hero. One of the main ones is that the character must have a fatal flaw. In Macbeth's case, it is his 'vaulting ambition' (1:VII:27). Ambition can be a good thing, but when in large doses as Macbeth's was, it can be dangerous, and, as Macbeth proved, even fatal.

Another important characteristic of a tragic hero is the conflict between good and evil, and the choice between these two things. Macbeth consciously chooses evil over good. A victim, on the other hand, has no power over what happens to them. Macbeth did have some control over the situation, which means that he was not a victim.

However, Macbeth himself can't be entirely to blame. He was influenced and manipulated, particularly by the witches. If the three 'Weird Sisters' (1:V:7) had not said anything to Macbeth in the first place then none of it would have happened. The 'Weird Sisters' put the idea of becoming 'king hereafter' (1:III:49) into Macbeth's head, and, consequently, the idea of murdering King Duncan. The witches knew that this would happen, they wanted it...