A tragic hero's exceptional nature generally raises him above the average level of humanity. The greatest tragic heroes are extolled to the degree that we sometimes realize all that is implied in their words and actions, and we become conscious that in real life we have scarcely known anyone resembling them. The one flaw of a tragic hero often takes the form of an obsession or ambition. In the circumstances of a hero the tragic trait, which is also his greatness, is fatal to him. He errs, by action or omission, and his error, joining with other causes, brings on his downfall.
The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a tragic hero. There are several factors that contribute to his degeneration, but only three of them really stand out. The first point that contributes to his downfall is the prophecies that were told to him by the witches. The next is Lady Macbeth's manipulation and strong influence over Macbeth's judgement. And finally, Macbeth falls because of his ambition and desire to become king. Macbeth's character declines from a noble man to a violent individual.
"Is Macbeth a horrible monster or is he a sensitive man - a victim of witches, his manipulating wife, and his own ambition" (Research and Learn 5)? Macbeth has several different sides. One is the evil villain who kills his own best friend, Banquo, just for the sake of gaining the crown. The other side is one of sensitivity, seen when he feels bad and guilty about the horrendous deeds he has committed. He acts as a terrible creature; one minute he is miserable just thinking of his crime, and the next he seems to lack remorse for his deeds. But regardless of Macbeth's actions, his guilty conscience taunts him until the day he dies (5).
Macbeth has a very guilty conscience at the beginning of the play, after committing the first murder, but gradually he becomes a man of twisted faith and morals. He seems almost if in a state of confusion, because though he used to be a noble, brave man, he has become violent and irrational; he lashes out at everyone for no specific reason (Research and Learn 6).