Question: Analyze how an unconventional hero was appealing to you as a reader
Heroic qualities can be subjective to what one views as heroic. It can be fascinating to see the villain’s perspective through a lens that celebrates their deeds instead of wishing to bring them to a halt. Throughout the play Macbeth—written by William Shakespeare—the character of the murderous tyrant Macbeth is used to show how contrasting perspectives makes the reader root for the stereotypical villain. The anti-hero persona of Macbeth is appealing to the reader. Through ambitious actions, and his decline to insanity, the audience gets to see the story from a unique perspective—the villains.
Firstly, Macbeth is seen as a heroic character by showing how he is worthy of his Thane title at the start of the play. After Macbeth kills a traitorous Thane, King Duncan says to Macbeth “O Valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!”. This shows the reader of Macbeth’s beginning character, which later contrasts with the man that Macbeth becomes. The use of the noun ‘cousin’ further develops how respected Macbeth was. To be recognised as a cousin by the king is an honour and a privilege. This dialogue falsely sets Macbeth’s character up by showing him as a person with qualities he lacks later on. This beginning praise makes the reader think Macbeth will continue to be ‘worthy’, and without realizing it the reader continues to think this which overshadows Macbeth’s misdeeds.
Furthermore, irony is apparent after Macbeth kills the traitorous thane. Shakespeare uses this event to foreshadow that Macbeth is going to become the traitorous thane. Macbeth killing the Thane is applauded, but when the roles are reversed at the end of the play; the audience switches and cheers Macbeth’s deeds even though they discourage the same deeds at this event. If the story was told from Macduff’s perspective–Macduff is the conventional hero in the text who kills Macbeth–the audience would despise Macbeth and view him as a character with no redemption. However, because the story is told through Macbeth’s perspective, the reader grows fond of Macbeth which causes the reader to overlook Macbeth’s misdeeds. This event leading up to Duncan’s murder shows how quickly Macbeth’s decline to insanity was.
Secondly, Macbeth is seen as an unconventional hero through how the reader encourages his dark thoughts on. While Macbeth is thinking about murdering Duncan in his soliloquy, he says: “Stars hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires.” The personification of the stars shows how Macbeth is battling his moral compass. Stars are symbolic of fate, and Macbeth bargains with them to show how he truly believes that the witches’ prophecies will come true no matter what he does. Macbeth is meant to be loyal and devoted to Duncan, and this scene is a clear insight of Macbeth’s twisted mind as he battles with his morality. Up until this point, Macbeth is reasonable and worthy. He can’t believe what is required of him which is why he argues with fate—Shakespeare does this to show the start of Macbeth’s journey of insanity. Macbeth goes on a negative character development, but the way Shakespeare crafts his character constantly interests the readers because of his uniqueness.
Macbeth is a victim of his own choice, but he believes he is a victim of fate. It is through his misdeeds that everything spirals into tragedy. Macbeth shows heroic qualities like ambition and willpower which turn to unconventional qualities the more he loses himself. The paranoid ambition overrides any other qualities, which makes Macbeth a fascinating character because it is easy to root for him. He is set in his ways and this provides an appealing character for the reader.
Following this, Macbeth is once more seen as an unconventional character when he admits that violence is all he can think of. Through the metaphor “Full of scorpions is my mind”, Macbeth clings to the idea that he is past redemption. This metaphor provides a clear understanding of what his mind is like following the key event of Duncan’s death. To have a mind full of scorpions means that the mind is poisonous and consumes all good to make evil. This would explain Macbeth’s paranoid state because he is quick to turn things around to think everything is against him. By choosing the path to kill Duncan, Macbeth can not go back to his innocent path. He has become dedicated to being an ambitious murderer. These thoughts are not what conventional heroes think of, and Shakespeare uses this metaphor to show Macbeth’s conflict. All heroes have conflict and this twisted metaphor puts relatability into his character. Humans also are quick to turn situations around and the reader could see the Human in Macbeth which could make him an interesting character. As the reader sees all sides of Macbeth—from him at his most vulnerable to his most powerful—the audience grows fond of Macbeth and looks past any flaws in the hope of redemption or hope of victory for the murderous, tragic hero.
In conclusion, the character of Macbeth is used to show unconventional heroic qualities through his thoughts and how he deals with pressing situations. During his tragic journey, Macbeth deals with events like killing Duncan with very human emotions which makes the reader fond of him as a character. As the readers see the human in Macbeth—through his mistakes and emotions—it is easy to find him likeable and look past his horrifying deeds. He is an interesting character for the reader because he is not a conventional protagonist. To be a conventional protagonist means that a character shows only good qualities which are done in good humor. Shakespeare puts heroic qualities into Macbeth to show there can be good in evil.
Sometimes people—including Macbeth—don’t see the damage in their actions, and view themselves as higher than others. They might become immune to rethinking devious actions because they believe what they are doing is correct. Most characters that are deemed evil themselves think their actions are good. The evil characters view the stereotypical heroic characters and their actions as evil because they are so invested in their intentions. Macbeth is a good example of how the audience is tricked into thinking that Macbeth’s deeds should be encouraged instead of disregarded.