Extract of Macbeth as a Shakespearean Tragedy

Extract of Macbeth as a Shakespearean Tragedy 

Extract of Macbeth as Shakespeare's Tragedy

Most Important Characteristics of Macbeth as a Shakespearean Tragedy 

■ Macbeth, the most vehement and concentrated of the tragedies:

Macbeth is the shortest of the four great tragedies of Shakespeare but the impression which it leaves on the mind is not one of shortness but of speed. It has classical simplicity and symmetry, but it is also the most vehement and concentrated of the tragedies. In its construction, Shakespeare has almost achieved perfection. 

■ Simplicity of its plot in Macbeth:

One of the distinctive features of Macbeth as a Shakespearean tragedy is the extreme simplicity of its plot. There is no subplot, episode, and no digression to retard the action or divert the attention. There is no extraneous matter with the possible exception of the witch-scene in Act-III which is generally regarded as an interpolation. 

Macbeth is classical in its simplicity, and this simplicity makes it concentrate on the main theme, to the entire exclusion of everything superfluous, and this creates the impression of speed.

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■ Macbeth as a tragedy of atmosphere:

It is said that Macbeth is a tragedy of atmosphere. The dramatist has concentrated more on the creation of atmosphere than on the subtitles and complexities of character. This atmosphere is one of all pervasive darkness, even blackness, relieved by flashes of garish light or splashes of blood.

■ Simple in characterisation and construction:

Macbeth is one of the greatest tragedies of Shakespeare can be remembered for its simplicity both in characterisation and construction. The characters have been delineated boldly and broadly and are lacking in those subtle touches and delicate hints which we get in other tragedies. Still the dramatist has succeeded in imparting a rare loftiness and grandeur to the figure of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who stand out sublime above the others. Its construction too is equally simple. Its action moves swiftly, even vehemently onwards. Macbeth is the shortest play of Shakespeare, and this brevity results from its classical simplicity. 

■ Strong melodramatic elements in Macbeth:

Macbeth as a tragedy stands strong in the melodramatic element, and this makes it a greater success on the stage. This feature has been concentrated on the two leading characters of the play - Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth grows more and more the centre of interest. Prof. Chambers rightly says, "the whole interest is concentrated on the rise and fall of Macbeth and his wife." Thus the dramatic element lies in the rise and fall of Macbeth, the working out of Nemesis or Retribution. 

■ Introduction of Witches in Macbeth:

It is the only tragedy in which Shakespeare has introduced the witches. The witches impart the touch of mystery, awe and supernatural dread to it. The horror of the atmosphere is further intensified and a touch of supernatural dread is added to it by the appearance of the witches and the ghost. As H.B Chariton remarks, "The witches are the embodied malevolence which bubbles up from nature's earth, roaming the darkness, in thunder, rain and lightning, secret black and midnight hags, who hover the borderland between the natural and the supernatural and fuse the two in the dark mystery of man's universe."

The Witches in Macbeth

■ Tale of murder became dramatic poem:

Macbeth is considered as a tale of murder, but the dramatist has made out of it a great dramatic poem. There is no other of Shakespeare's tragic heroes who invariably speaks such pure poetry as does Macbeth. Besides his vaulting ambition and weakness of will, Macbeth also has the imagination of a born poet. Macbeth is essentially a melodramatic tale of murder, but it is raised to the level of pure tragedy by the poetic imagination of its central figure. His poetic imagination makes him see visions of the terrible consequences of his crime and it intensifies its horror. Macbeth's imagination is pictorial and it is in conflict with his ambition. 

■ Conflict in it is more violent and more swift:

Conflict in the play is more violent and more swift than the other tragedies. The external conflict is violent and powerful. It is more powerful and more keenly felt than in the others, and this lends to the play a certain violence of passion which is very impressive. This conflict sustains the interest of the readers throughout. 

■ Hero turned villain in Macbeth:

It is the only play where Shakespeare has depicted a hero turned villain. Macbeth turns a villain soon after the play opens; this is not the case with Hamlet, Lear or Othello. The Fate which overtakes him is not undeserved; Macbeth is the only tragedy in which the suffering of the hero is proportionate to his wickedness. It is the only tragedy in which poetic justice is meted out to the hero. Bailey remarks, "The tragedy of Macbeth is the greatest murder in Shakespeare, done in the most supernatural atmosphere, and by Shakespeare's greatest poet."

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