” The tragic hero must be neither villain nor a virtuous man but a ‘character between these two extremes…a man who not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity but by some error or human frailty.”
Macbeth is not a victim of fate. A tragic hero is someone who through no fault of his own follows a path of evil. Macgeth chooses to utilize whatever evil he deems necessary to assuage his insecurities and to achieve his selfish aspirations. His overpowering need to prove his manhood, his vain and insatiable ambition ultimately transform him into a bloodthirsty tyrant. His ascent to power is ironically paralleled by his moral decay. Macbeth is not a tragic hero because he is a villain by intent. He chooses the evil and violence that inevitably consume him. The only tragic thing is the pain and anarchy this supposed hero leaves in his wake.
Though not a hero, Macbeth is unaplogetically human. The issue of Macbeth’s manhood constantly arises. Lady Macbeth manipulates her indecisive husband incessantly, disparaging his masculinity. Many of Macbeth’s actions could be seen as attempts to vindicate his manhood. In weak opposition to the murder and in defense of his manhood, Macbeth argues, “I dare do all that may become a man who dares do more is none.” His wife argues that by being more daring, he will become more of a man: (Act 1, Sc 7 49-51) ” When you durst do it, then you were a man and, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man.” Later that night, Macbeth is executing his beloved monarch. In Act Three, Macbeth sees an appartion of the dear friend he had sentenced to death, Lady Macbeth cuts into him again with the vicious speech that asks again, “Are you a man?” This is not Macbeth as a hero, this is Macbeth as henpecked.
Macbeth’s vain ambition consumes him. After hearing the witches’ prophecy, Macbeth concluded,(Act 1, 3, 43144) “If chance will have me king, why then chance may crown me without my stir. Macbeth is named Thane of Cawdor, yet when Malcolm is named Prince of Cumberland(hence heir to the throne), Macbeth’s immediate response is anger and disbelief. He believes he is the rightful heir. He is dissatisfied. (Act 1, Sc.4, 48-53)”The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step/On which I must fall down or o’er leap/For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires!/ Let not light see my black and deep desires/The eye wink at the hand: yet let that be/ Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.” Macbeth mentions his ‘black and deep desires.’ He wants to be king and he intends to do whatever it takes. When Macbeth is crowned King, his ambition mounts. Now having power, he wants security.(Act 3,Sc.1,48) “To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.” The throne he has gained is not enough. He wants his lineage continued. Unfortunately, he has no children. The witches prophesized that Banquo was to be the father of a line of kings. However, Macbeth wants to be the sole benefactor of his crimes. (Act 3, Sc.1, 66-68) ” For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d/Put rancours in the vessel of my peace/Only for them and mine eternal jewel.” Macbeth orders the assasination of Banqo and Fleance. he knows his soul if forfeit and yet remains so self-seeking. His vain ambition reaches insane porportions. After meeting with the witches a second time, Macbeth deems himself invincible. The circumstances they prophesized sound too farfetched to ever be realized. Receiving what he believes to be assurance of his supposed invincibility, Macbeth declares, ” Seize upon fife; give to the edge of sword/ His wife, his babes and all the unfortunate souls/That trace him in his line.” He thus orders the slaughtering of innocent women and children to spite Macduff. There is no nobility in his actions. He is self-obsessed Even as he and his castle are under siege, he retains the same delusional arrogance.(Act5, Sc7,12) “Thou was born of woman;/But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn./Brandish’d by man that’s of woman born.” This inevitably leads to his destruction.
Macbeth is not heroic. He is deliberate in his villanous actions, using violence and deception to achieve his selfish aspirations. Macbeth commits regicide, thought to be the ultimate sin, in murdering the divinely ordained king. Why does he commit such a horrific crime? Does he desire to better Scotland: Not in the least. Macbeth wants power. This poorly calculated and incompetently performed crime splinters into a myriad of murders and deceits. Throughout the cycle of violence, Macbeth’s purpose remains the same: to have his insecurities assuaged and his vain ambitions achieved. All this evil is compounded by Macbeth’s human frailties but the repercussions and reverberations of this man’s existence are much too great, too diabolic to be attributed to any human weakness.
For I have sworn the fair and thought thee bright
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.