Macbeth: a Tragic Hero
A tragic hero is a person who’s life is determined by four elements: fate, weakness (in
Macbeth’s case, fear), poor decision making, and the realization of flaws with inability to prevent the
oncoming tragedy. First of all, fate is defined as the power or force held to predetermine events.
Fate makes its first appearance in the play when Lady Mac receives Macbeth’s letter which tells of the
witches’ prophecies. At this point, Lady Mac is stricken with fear because she is afraid that Macbeth
will not utilize his opportunity to seize the crown, “Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to
have thee crown’s withal” (1.5 29-30). In the end, Macbeth will have to come face to face with his fate
and deal with it accordingly. Secondly, Macbeth’s weakness (fear) is another element in his being a
tragic hero. This weakness is portrayed often in the character of Macbeth. Oftentimes, tragic heroes
must contain the element of fear, because it is a very humanizing element, so therefore without it,
they would be some sort of superior human, which they are not. They are still human, even though
they are heroes. In the case of Macbeth, his fear was created by himself due to the situations which
he has involved himself with. Eventually it is this self-induces, self-produced fear which eats
Macbeth from the inside out. In the end, Macbeth’s fear becomes a totally all-inclusive, all-
consuming creature which takes his life and virtually rapes him of his unlawfully obtained position
of king.


1) Aspects of Macbeth, Kenneth Muir, Philip Edwards, Cambridge University Press1978
2) The New Varioum Shakespeare, Macbeth, Horace Howard Furness, New York American
Scholar, 1963.
3) Shakespeare: The Tragedy of Macbeth, John Russell Brown, Baron’s Educational Series,
Inc. 1963.
4) ‘Double Profit” in Macbeth, H. L. Rogers, Melbourne University Press 1964.
5) Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, Lippincott & Crowell, Publishers 1980

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