The Tragic Process -

The Tragic Hero -The Tragic Process
The Tragic Hero
† In Shakespeare’s era,
a tragedy always
focused on the tragic
† A person of high stature
whose personal flaw
causes him to choose
Progression of the Tragic Process
† Dilemma
† Wrong Choice
† Suffering
† Perception
† Death
† Restoration to Order
The problem is…
The dilemma is the choice
that the protagonist
must make, or a
problem he or she must
Macbeth’s dilemma:
whether or not to
murder Duncan
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes….
• With his wife’s strong
prompting and prophesies from
the Weird Sisters fueling his
I have no spur to prick the
sides of my intent, but only /
Vaulting ambition, which
o’erleaps itself / And falls on th’
other-----------[I; vii]
…..Macbeth makes the wrong
Wrong Choice
• The tragic hero has a character flaw or
weakness that causes him or her to make the
wrong choice or decision.
Tragic Flaw
• Macbeth’s character
flaw is hubris — from
the Greek hybris –
“excessive pride”
• The tragic hero’s flawed
choice leads to suffering and
often death for not only the
hero, but also for others.
• Immediately after Duncan’s
murder, Macbeth suffers: he
cannot sleep...has no joy…
O, full of scorpions is my
mind, dear wife!
[III, ii]
• Lady Macbeth dies…
Out, out brief candle!
[V, v]
Most of Macbeth’s friends
reject him-…that which should accompany
old age / As honor, love,
obedience, troops of friends, I
must not look to have…
[V, iii]
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
• The prophecies conjured by the
Weird Sisters arouse Macbeth’s
ambition and pride:
The mind I sway by and the heart I
bear / Shall never sag with doubt or
[V, iii]
I have almost forgot the taste of
[V, v]
I bear a charméd life which must
not yield / To one of woman born.
[V, viii]
Fear not, till Birnam Wood Do Come to Dunsinane!
As I did stand my
watch upon the hill,
/ I looked toward
Birnam, and anon,
methought, The
wood began to
[V, v]
No man of woman born shall harm Macbeth.
Despair thy charm, /
And let the angel
whom thou still hast
served / Tell thee,
Macduff was from
his mother’s womb /
Untimely ripped.
[V, viii]
• Perception brings an
epiphany—the “Ah
ha!” moment—to the
tragic hero.
Ah ha!!!
And be these juggling fiends no
more believed, / That palter
with us in a double sense; /
That keep the word of promise
to our ear / And break it to our
…Yet I will try the last. Before my
body I throw my warlike shield.
Lay on, MacDuff, / And damned
be him that first cries, “Hold,
[V, viii]
As Macbeth faces the final battle, he realizes that
his ambition did not bring peace, and he sees
that he must die to pay the penalty for the chaos
he has caused.
The crowning of
Malcolm represents
the Restoration to
Order for Scotland:
Hail, King! for so thou
art: behold, where
stands / Th’ usurper’s
cursed head. The time
is free.
[V, viii]
Fate vs. Free Will
The reader has to wonder what
influence the Weird Sisters
and Lady Macbeth had on
Macbeth’s choices. While
their influence was intense,
Shakespeare seems to show
that Macbeth is ultimately
responsible for his wrong
Men at some times are
masters of their fates.
/ The fault, dear
Brutus, is not in our
stars, / But in
Cassius, Act I, scene 2
Julius Caesar
…how dangerous is the
acquirement of knowledge,
and how much happier that
man who believes his native
town to be the world, than
he who aspires to become
greater than his nature will
Chapter VI

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