If Macbeth is evil, why do/should we pity him and how does Shakespeare shape our pity throughout the play?I that we do because he is a tragic hero…

If Macbeth is evil, why do/should we pity him and how does Shakespeare shape our pity throughout the play?I that we do because he is a tragic hero…

If Macbeth is evil, why do/should we pity him and how does Shakespeare shape our pity throughout the play?I that we do because he is a tragic hero…

If Macbeth is evil, why do/should we pity him and how does Shakespeare shape our pity throughout the play?I that we do because he is a tragic hero…

When we read or watch Shakespeare’s Macbeth, any knowledge we have of tragedy and catharsis should be irrelevant.  It isn’t of course to anyone who’s studied tragedy, but it would be unknown to many, in the past or present, who read or watch the play. Any playwright of tragedy would naturally attempt to create the pity and fear that leads to catharsis.  A writer wouldn’t rely on a reader forcing pity and fear.That said, there are elements of Macbeth’s personality and experience that can lead one to a catharsis. Macbeth loses his wife and, at least briefly, falls into nihilism.  He sees existence as meaningless.  In his “Tomorrow” speech, he says:She should have died hereafter;There would have been a time for such a word.Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrowCreeps in this petty pace from day to dayTo the last syllable of recorded time,And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle!Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor playerThat struts and frets his hour upon the stageAnd then is heard no more.  It is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.  (Act 5.6.17-28)  Whatever Macbeth has done, losing his wife and realizing everything he has done is meaningless creates pity, particularly if the first scene of the play in which they meet (Act 1.5) is imagined or performed with much affection between Macbeth and his wife.   Also, by the conclusion of the play Macbeth is trapped.  He feels like a baited bear, a bear chained to a tree then attacked by a pack of dogs for the viewing pleasure of the audience.  His doom is all but assured, yet he continues to fight and refuses to give up.  There is a noble side to Macbeth that can be admired.Finally, I’ve focused on the “pity” element in catharsis, but the “fear” element is just as important.  And Macbeth certainly creates fear in Scotland, and, by extension, the reader or audience.
If Macbeth is evil, why do/should we pity him and how does Shakespeare shape our pity throughout the play?I that we do because he is a tragic hero…
If Macbeth is evil, why do/should we pity him and how does Shakespeare shape our pity throughout the play?I that we do because he is a tragic hero…
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If Macbeth is evil, why do/should we pity him and how does Shakespeare shape our pity throughout the play?I that we do because he is a tragic hero…
Read More