Use of the Classical Tragic Mold in Shakespeare's Macbeth

	 Use of the Classical Tragic Mold in Shakespeare's Macbeth
In Shakespeare?s tragedy, Macbeth, there are many characters. Only

one character stands out, and his name is in the title of the play.

Macbeth?s character was made in the mold of the ancient Greek tragic hero.

Besides being endowed by Shakespeare with an abundance and variety of

potential traits and characteristics, Macbeth also follows the Classical

Tragic Mold, which is presented with a hefty supply of hubris, and in this

case, ambition. Because Macbeth follows the Classical Tragic Mold, he is a

Classical Tragic Hero.
The first step of the Classical Tragic Mold is recognizing the

problem. The problem in Macbeth is not a true problem that presents itself

outwardly. The problem for the character of Macbeth is deciding if he

should listen to his ambition and kill Duncan. At first, he ponders reasons

why not to kill his king. He at first thinks that he cannot kill him

because of four reasons: Macbeth is Duncan?s subject, Duncan is a good king,

they are blood-related, and Macbeth is his host. These reasons dissuade

Macbeth at first, but later Lady Macbeth convinces him, by questioning his

manhood, to commit the dastardly crime. When he finally murders Duncan, the

problem comes to closure. But, even long before then, the next step in the

mold had begun: the descent into the abyss.

The ?decent into the abyss? is the second step in the Classical

Tragic Mold. It is started with Macbeth?s second soliloquy. This is after

Macbeth hears from Duncan that Malcolm was to be named the Prince of

Cumberland. ?The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall

down, or else o?erleap, for in my way it lies ? Let not light see my

black and deep desires." (Shakespeare, 281). This quote from the soliloquy

indicates that Macbeth has, indeed, told himself that he will commit the

murder of Duncan, although he doesn?t actually admit it until his wife

pressures him to do so. With this decision, the reader (or audience) reads

(or sees) that Macbeth is straying from the righteous path, and descending

into the abyss, even though he is keeping his feelings to himself. His

decision to murder Duncan tarnishes his ?war hero? image and casts it in an

ominous shadow.

The third step in the mold has two parts and is known as

Transformation and Transcendence. The character of Macbeth goes into

Transformation during his fourth soliloquy. "?I have lived long enough.

My way of life is fall?n into the sear?" (Shakespeare, 343). This quote

illustrates that Macbeth begins to realize that his life has fallen into a

wretched state and that either the battle will dethrone him or make him

invincible. His character has transformed from an ambitious, power-hungry

man, to one who knows that either his end or glorification may be near, and

will fight his hardest to try to keep himself alive, even if it means

helping the sinister process along by failing in his cause.

The second part of this step is Transcendence. When a character

finally meets with this step, he or she becomes a universal character.

Macbeth states, "?Life?s but a walking shadow, a poor player? upon the

stage? It is a tale told by an idiot? signifying nothing." (Shakespeare,

346). In this soliloquy, Shakespeare turns Macbeth into a universal

character by claiming that people are like actors on a stage. It doesn?t

matter what they do because it is just a play, and no one?s actions will

truly effect anything.

The substance of Macbeth is that of which Classical Tragic Heroes

are fashioned. Because he follows the mold well, Macbeth is an excellent

example of why the Greek rules of the theatre are still used as the basis

of many plays today, as well as back in the age of Shakespeare. The

Classical Tragic Mold is used to shape a tragic hero into a character that

can be repeated over and over, in countless plays and more. Macbeth was

developed in this way, using this mold.

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