In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the play's central character, Macbeth, displays the atrocities created by greed, on of the plays many themes. His tragic decision stems from the influence of a tragic flaw. Once he has made the decision, it is irreversible and produces his downfall. Aristotle defined the tragic hero as the following: " The tragic hero must be neither villain nor a virtuous man but a character between these two extremes a man who's not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity but by some error or human frailty." Macbeth serves as an example of a tragic hero in Shakespeare's Macbeth due to the fact that his desire for power causes his downfall.
Starting from the beginning of the play we see that Macbeth has the potential of wanting to be king, thus having a tragic flaw. In Act one, Scene 1, three witches who in turn contribute to the downfall of his character, confront Macbeth. They tell him he will become Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and last but not least king of Scotland. These prophecies arouse Macbeth's curiosity to rise to power. Once the witches give him the prophecy of becoming king, he immediately thinks about how he can accomplish this. In Act 1, he says, "If good, why do I yield to that suggestion? Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair? And make my seated heart knock against my ribs. Against the use of nature?" (Act 1, scene 3, 134-137). He believes the prophecy to be good news, and cannot think of a reason why he should not be king. We see him aspiring to become king even more in the following quote: "Glamis and Thane of Cowdor! The greatest is behind." (Act 1, Scene 3, 133). As the play progresses, he relies more and more on their prophecies. He shows great faith in the witches" words, not once considering that they may be apparitions of evil. In the following passage, he writes to Lady Macbeth his thoughts: "They met me in the day of success; and I/have learned by the perfectest report, they have more in/them than mortal knowledge.