The Tragedy of Macbeth is full of common literary elements that are important for students to explore. Because this is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies, it is often beneficial for students to understand why is it is categorized as such. One of the main reasons is because it contains a tragic hero. This is a protagonist who is typically of noble birth and seems to be ill-fated and destined for doom. In this play, it is clear that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fit this description.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle was the first to record the specific attributes or principles of a tragic hero. For the storyboard above, students use a template to storyboard the qualities that make Macbeth a tragic hero. The finished product outlines each of Aristotle's principles with a detailed explanation of the specific attributes.
|ATTRIBUTE||DESCRIPTION||Example from Macbeth|
|Hamartia||Flaw in the Character||The Three Witches tell Macbeth a prophecy that causes Macbeth to take matters into his hands (ambition).|
|Hubris||Excessive Pride||Macbeth’s pride combines with his ambition, and that of his wife. They plot to kill the current king so that he can usurp the throne. "How can I be king someday?"|
|Peripeteia||Reversal of Fortune||After killing the king and numerous others, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth become suspicious and paranoid. "Lady Macbeth, I fear our murderous deeds."|
|Anagnorisis||A Moment of Critical Discovery||Macbeth discovers that the former king's son is planning a rebellion against him.|
|Nemesis||Fate that Cannot be Avoided||"The battle is won! ALL HAIL KING MALCOLM! The tyrant and his fiend wife are dead."|
|Catharsis||Audience's Feeling of Pity or Fear After the Hero's Fall||In the end, the witches' final prophecy comes true and Macbeth is killed. The audience is left with the feeling of pity and relief that Macbeth and his wife are dead.|
Grade Level 11-12
Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Tragic HeroCommon Core Standards
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Create a storyboard that shows how Macbeth can be considered a tragic hero.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
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