Macbeth: a Tragic Hero

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 679 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 679|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Ambition as Macbeth’s Fatal Flaw
  2. Moral Decline and its Consequences
  3. Conclusion

William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is a captivating tale of ambition, power, and the downfall of a noble protagonist. The character of Macbeth is often considered a tragic hero, a protagonist who possesses a fatal flaw that leads to their ultimate demise. This essay will explore the concept of a tragic hero and analyze how Macbeth fits this archetype. By examining his ambition, moral decline, and the consequences of his actions, it becomes clear that Macbeth is indeed a tragic hero.

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Ambition as Macbeth’s Fatal Flaw

Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his unchecked ambition. From the very beginning of the play, it is evident that Macbeth desires power and is willing to do whatever it takes to obtain it. His initial encounter with the witches sparks a seed of ambition within him, as they prophesy his future kingship. This prophecy ignites Macbeth's desire for power, leading him to contemplate regicide. As he ponders the possibility of murdering King Duncan, Macbeth reveals his internal conflict:

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly. If th' assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease, success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'ld jump the life to come."

This soliloquy showcases Macbeth’s ambition as well as his moral dilemma. Although he acknowledges the consequences of his actions, he is driven by the desire for power and success. This internal battle between ambition and morality ultimately leads to Macbeth’s downfall.

Furthermore, Macbeth's ambition is further fuelled by his wife, Lady Macbeth. She encourages him to seize the opportunity and take the crown by any means necessary, even if it means resorting to evil deeds. Her persuasive tactics manipulate Macbeth into carrying out the murder of King Duncan. Macbeth’s tragic flaw is evident in his willingness to betray his own morals and commit an act of regicide, solely driven by his ambition for power.

Moral Decline and its Consequences

As Macbeth’s ambition grows, so does his moral decline. The murder of King Duncan marks a turning point in Macbeth’s character, as he realizes the extent to which he is willing to go to secure his position as king. After the murder, Macbeth’s guilt and paranoia begin to consume him, leading him to commit further acts of violence in an attempt to cover his tracks. This descent into darkness is evident in Macbeth’s soliloquy:

"I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er."

Here, Macbeth acknowledges that he has gone too far to turn back. His moral decline has reached a point of no return, as he becomes increasingly ruthless and willing to do anything to maintain his power.

The consequences of Macbeth’s actions are severe and far-reaching. As he continues down his path of destruction, Macbeth becomes consumed by guilt and paranoia. He is haunted by the ghost of Banquo, a former friend he had murdered, and his deteriorating mental state is evident in his hallucinations:

"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee."

Macbeth’s guilt and paranoia ultimately lead to his downfall, as he becomes isolated and loses the trust of those around him. His moral decline and the consequences of his actions serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition.


In conclusion, Macbeth fits the archetype of a tragic hero due to his fatal flaw of unchecked ambition, his moral decline, and the severe consequences of his actions. Macbeth’s ambition drives him to commit regicide and betray his own morals, resulting in a downward spiral of guilt and paranoia. The consequences of his actions lead to his ultimate demise. Macbeth's tragic journey serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of ambition and the importance of moral integrity. Shakespeare masterfully crafts Macbeth's character, illustrating the devastating consequences of succumbing to unchecked ambition. Macbeth's tragic hero status is solidified through his internal struggle, moral decline, and the severe repercussions of his actions.

Works Cited

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Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1992.

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Cite this Essay

Macbeth: A Tragic Hero. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Macbeth: A Tragic Hero.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Macbeth: A Tragic Hero. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Macbeth: A Tragic Hero [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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