Pity And Fear In Macbeth's Tragedy

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In his work, The Poetics Aristotle reflects on the role of pity and fear in tragedy, stating, “Tragedy is essentially an imitation not of persons but of action and of life; of happiness and misery. Add human happiness or misery takes the form of action… Character gives us qualities, but it is in our actions that we are happy or the reverse… The tragic pleasure is that of pity and fear” (Aristotle, The Poetics). Aristotle is probing one to conclude that tragedy is characterized by the pity and fear one evokes when individuals go against their presumed character and commit detrimental acts. Throughout his play Macbeth, Shakespeare, reminisces on the actions that gravitate an audience to render both fear and pity, which characterize a tragedy. …show more content…

After killing Banquo Macbeth evokes fear from the audience. Yet at a banquet thrown in honor of Macbeth’s new title of King, Macbeth begins hallucinating about the ghost of Banquo haunting him, this not only ruins the evening, but causes the audience to question the mental deterioration of Macbeth. Yes he is to be feared for his actions taken against Banquo, but the audience is left to question if Macbeth’s actions are not still reactions from the prophecies the witches gave him. They played on his ambitious tendencies and clearly manipulated him, which draws pity, although Macbeth is acting on his own, not under the constructs of any direction which causes fear of what he is capable of. In this moment with the apparition of Banquo the audience has to question the confounds of Macbeth’s sanity, it is easy to fear Macbeth because of what he is doing, but circumstances such as these and the encounters with the Weird Sisters make it difficult for the audience to despise Macbeth, instead they take pity on what they view as a delusional mind. This debate between the pity found in Macbeth’s mental state and the fear he evokes through his actions continues as Macbeth becomes a vicious tyrant. Not only does he kill off more of those around him, including the family of MacDuff, all for the sake of proving his power over those around him, but he rains famine and tragedy across the land. Macbeth’s inhumane actions easily draw fear from the audience as it expresses how uncontrollable and deranged, he has become; Macbeth is truly far from the hero first introduced. Extensively Macbeth begins to trust fewer and fewer individuals, he becomes more paranoid about the things going on around him. Specifically he can’t sleep and fears loosing his power. But is the power he obtained even worth having if it brings him to such a low quality of life? As

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