Analysis of “Macbeth”

Macbeth, a play by William Shakespeare, is one of the most well-known tragedies in literature. The title character Macbeth is driven by his ambition and desire for power, which leads him to commit murder. This ultimately leads to his downfall and death. In this article, we’ll explore how Macbeth fits the Aristotelian definition of a tragedy.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. The play is based on the life of Macbeth, a Scottish general who becomes King of Scotland through treachery and murder. The play is considered to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest works, and is often studied in literature classes.While Macbeth does not fit perfectly into any one tragedy genre, it is often classified as an Aristotelian tragedy. This means that the play contains many of the elements that are found in Aristotle’s definition of tragedy. These elements include a tragic hero, a reversal of fortune, and a catharsis.

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The character of Macbeth is the perfect example of a tragic hero. He starts out as a brave and noble general, but his ambition leads him to commit heinous acts. As his crimes catch up with him, he descends into madness and ultimately meets his downfall.

Throughout the play, there are many examples of reversals of fortune. For instance, when Macbeth murders Duncan he goes from being a loyal subject to a traitorous murderer. Later in the play, when Lady Macbeth kills herself, she goes from being the strong-willed driving force behind her husband’s crimes to

The main characters in the play


The main characters in Macbeth are, of course, Macbeth and his wife. But there are also a few other important characters worth mentioning. The first is Duncan, the King of Scotland. Duncan is killed by Macbeth at the beginning of the play, setting off the chain of events that lead to Macbeth’s downfall.


Another important character is Banquo. Banquo is Macbeth’s friend and confidante, but he also has his own ambitions. He is eventually killed by Macbeth’s henchmen, which furthers Macbeth’s descent into madness.

Lady Macbeth

The last significant character is Lady Macbeth. She is the driving force behind her husband’s crimes, and she eventually goes mad herself from the guilt. These are just a few of the major players in Macbeth. There are many more minor characters who contribute to the tragedy as well.

The plot of the play

In Macbeth, Shakespeare tells the story of a brave and ambitious general who, spurred on by the prophecy of three witches, murders his king in order to take the throne for himself. As the play progresses, Macbeth’s increasing paranoia and guilt drive him to commit more and more atrocities, until finally he is overthrown and killed in a final battle.

While the play is certainly a tragedy, it also contains elements of Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero. In particular, Macbeth is a man of great stature who falls from a position of power and respect due to his own flaws and choices. His story is one that can teach us about the dangers of ambition and the importance of moral integrity.

Themes in the play

One of the most interesting aspects of Macbeth is the way in which it engages with so many different themes. These include, but are not limited to, ambition, betrayal, guilt, and morality. It is this exploration of such complex topics that has led many to consider Macbeth a tragedy in the Aristotelian sense.

While the play certainly has its moments of comedy, there is no denying that the overall tone is one of tragedy. This is evident from the very beginning, when we see Macbeth wrestling with his conscience over whether or not to kill Duncan. The fact that he eventually does go through with the murder only serves to heighten the sense of tragedy.

What makes Macbeth such a great tragedy is the way in which it examines the human condition. We see characters who are all too fallible and who make decisions that have catastrophic consequences. In this way, the play forces us to confront our own dark side and consider what we might be capable of if push came to shove.

Aristotelian tragedy

Aristotle’s Poetics is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first delineated the characteristics of tragedy. Aristotle considered tragedy to be an imitation of action that arouses pity and fear in the audience. In a tragic play, the protagonist (the main character) must undergo a journey from prosperity to disaster, usually as a result of a flaw in their character.

Macbeth is considered an Aristotelian tragedy for several reasons;

First, it contains a protagonist who experiences a fall from greatness. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a brave and honorable general, but his ambition leads him to commit murder and other atrocities. As a result, he descends into madness and is eventually killed.

Second, Macbeth contains elements of both pity and fear. The audience feels pity for Macbeth because he is ultimately destroyed by his own flaws. They also feel fear because his actions show how even good people can be driven to evil deeds by their ambition.

Finally, Aristotle believed that tragedy should teach a lesson about human nature. In Macbeth, this lesson is that unchecked ambition can lead to destruction. This is a universal message that can apply to anyone,

Macbeth as an Aristotelian tragedy

Aristotle’s definition of tragedy is a genre of literature in which the protagonist, typically of high birth, experiences a fall from grace due to their tragic flaw. In Macbeth, Shakespeare demonstrates how a once noble and respected man can fall victim to his own ambition and greed.

Macbeth is driven by his ambition to be king, and he will stop at nothing to achieve this goal. His wife, Lady Macbeth, is just as ambitious and encourages her husband to kill Duncan in order to ascend the throne. Their actions lead to a spiral of violence and bloodshed that eventually destroys them both.

While Macbeth may not fit Aristotle’s definition of tragedy perfectly, it is certainly a tragedy in the sense that it tells the story of a man who falls from a position of power and influence due to his own flaws. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition, and it serves as a reminder that even the most noble among us are capable of great evil.


Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedies, and it is easy to see why. The play has all the key components of an Aristotolian tragedy, including a tragic hero, a reversal of fortune and a tragic flaw. Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his ambition, which leads him to commit murder and other atrocities in order to gain power. This ultimately leads to his downfall, as he is unable to cope with the guilt and paranoia that come with being a murderer. If you’re interested in seeing how an Aristotolian tragedy plays out, then be sure to check out Macbeth.

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