Macbeth As A Tragedy According To Aristotle’s Definition Essay, Research Paper
While the genre of some works of literature can be debated, Macbeth written by William Shakespeare seems to fit into a perfect mold. Aristotle?s definition of a tragedy, combining seven elements that he believes make the genre of a work a tragedy, is that mold. Displaying all seven aspects, Macbeth fits the definition precisely.
Key elements in the play substantiate the fact that Macbeth is a serious story, the first elements of Aristotle?s definition. From the first lines of the play, the mood is set featuring witches whom speak of witchcraft, potions and apparitions. Not only do the three witches aid in making this a serious story but also, they appealed to Elizabethans whom at the time believed in such supernatural phenomena. War for centuries has represented killing and feuding, thus, the war taking place between Scotland and Norway provided a dark component. The Thane of Cawdor?s rapidly approaching execution due to his deceiving the king also plays a role in this grim work. Murder throughout all of Macbeth is an essential aspect when dealing with the seriousness of the play. From the beginning, Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to do anything to overthrow King Duncan, whom is the king of Scotland, the role Macbeth desperately yearns for. During the excursion to become king, Macbeth successfully murders King Duncan, Macduff?s wife and children, and with the help of a group of murderers Banquo; a brave general who will inherit the Scottish throne. Through the whole play, while such dank occurrences are used to create deep mood, Shakespeare also uses strong language and words. Such as when Lady Macbeth calls upon the gods to make her man-like so she will have the fortitude to kill King Duncan herself in this quote, ?Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here? Make my blood thick? Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunest smoke of hell, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes, nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark.? This type of language provokes thoughts of death, blood and darkness though the imagery such dank words create. The play also follows through with its theme of blood by in the end of the play, having both of its lead characters die. Lady Macbeth, distraught by guilt over the bloodshed, commits suicide while Macbeth is murdered and beheaded by Macduff, a Scottish noblemen.
Regardless of the outcome of the play, Macbeth was a good and great man, one of elements in the definition of tragedy. Macbeth was an honorable man whom held the position of the Thane of Glams and was victorious in battle. This victory helped him receive praise from Duncan, an admirable feat achieved by few. The most important detail that Macbeth is truly not just a good but a great man is the fact that at first, even though Lady Macbeth pleaded for him to kill Duncan, he declined. Through Lady Macbeth?s manipulative ways brought about by her lust for power and position, he did indeed kill him and others though. Yet, this in itself if dissected proves he is a great man. Through strategic planning and cunning wits, he was able to murder, and briefly get away with it. Yet, every great man must have a single flaw, which they give into, as stated in the definition of a tragedy. Macbeth?s flaw was ambition, brought about by Lady Macbeth and the witches. Through the imagery they created of him as a valiant, bold and triumphant King, he let his ambitions get the best of him, which led to murder, treachery, deceit and ultimately disaster. The ambition in him was not at full throttle until the witches and his wife fully brought it out of him yet, it was a flaw, unlike a curable sickness or dilemma, which he could not overcome, not even by fate. The aspect of a flaw that the good or great man cannot overcome by fate is the fourth element in Aristotle?s adaptation of a tragedy.
As stated, Macbeth could have done nothing to prevent his raging desire for success, which brought his downfall. As Aristotle states, when a man gives into his flaw, as Macbeth did, it?s a tragedy. Macbeth indeed at first tried to avoid killing to get his wish yet, in the end, it seemed he had no conscience of it. He knowingly and willingly schemed and killed various people on the climb up the ladder to his goal of king. Macbeth even brought other people into his deranged tactics, the murderers, to do his business for him. The scenario of the play where Macbeth intentionally murders others to achieve his goals fills another one of the criteria of Aristotle?s definition.
In the closing stages of the play, Macbeth?s shady and deceitful behavior engulf him and he is murdered by Macduff in an unforgettable cliffhanger scene. Regardless of his good qualities, Macbeth willingly and knowingly gave into his single flaw of ambition, which resulted in his murder and beheading. The seventh element of Aristotle?s definition seems to describe Macbeth’s circumstances ?to a T,? stating: and therefore suffers and receives punishment. Arguably the highest form of punishment, death is the only thing Macbeth gains from surrendering to fault of ambition.
One of Shakespeare?s most recognizable plays, Macbeth most definitely fits Aristotle?s definition of a tragedy. Entirely fulfilling all seven aspects, it seems as if Aristotle wrote such a definition specifically for Macbeth.