Macbeth is a tragedy written in the 17th century

Macbeth is a tragedy written in the 17th century (Jacobean era), which is meant to show what the desire for power can do to a man. And being the main protagonist, the character Macbeth is shown as a tragic hero. Shakespeare’s target audience would’ve been King James I and the Jacobean people who believed in the divine right of kings and as such would have been shocked by Macbeth’s actions throughout the play.
A tragic hero has been defined a person of noble status who is the cause of his own downfall through a mistake he has made himself, and is usually prompted by a tragic flaw in the characters personality. It is important that the tragic hero doesn’t show entirely good or entirely evil qualities. And the audience should be able to identify with him in some way to feel pity and fear for his fate. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is shown to be a hero, having just defeated Thane of Cawdor, a traitor to King Duncan. Macbeth is described as, “For brave Macbeth- well he deserves that name-…Like valour’s minion carved out his passage.” The word minion is another word for servant and by suggesting that Macbeth is ‘Valour’s minion’, Shakespeare may be implying that Macbeth was so brave that it was as if he is a servant of bravery itself.
As the play progresses Macbeth’s status as a hero starts to be undermined after he hears the prophecies. He doesn’t do anything dishonourable or disloyal at this stage, however, he does show interest into what the witches tell him. On the other hand, Banquo is suspicious of this. Shakespeare presents signs that the witches aren’t to be trusted. The weather at the beginning of the scene is described as “a desert place” with “thunder and lightning” which is associated with evil and tragedy, and the witches appearances are described as “That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth… Upon her skinny lips. You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret” meaning they have a supernatural and somewhat evil look about them. As well as this, people in the Jacobean era believed strongly in the presence of witches and were frightened of them as they were supposedly the devils workers and are sources distress and evil. The witches also appear to be the cause of why Macbeth’s tragic flaw, ambition, is brought about; as it is his desire to be king, which triggers the events later in the play.
Macbeth has shown to be strong in the physical sense but he seems to be mentally fragile. He also has doubt about killing Duncan.

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