"Tragic protagonists are entirely unsympathetic." Discuss this view in light of a play you have studied

Shakespeare's Macbeth is an archetypal tragic protagonist. He possesses a harmartia, a fatal flaw, that outweighs his better qualities and leads him to an irrevocable downfall. In spite of his talent as a soldier and lauded hero status at the play's beginnning, his "vaunting ambition" leads him to regicide, guilt-induced paranoia and crushing military defeat. This balance of admirable qualities with one crucial defect is designed to elicit a sympathetic response from an audience, who can recognize the humanity of the protagonist and lament his tragic end, achieving the desired "catharsis" of a traditional Aristotelian tragedy. Therefore, it is crucial that a tragic portagonist is somewhat sympathetic to enable a tragedy to have its desired outcome.

Shakespeare further elicits sympathy for Macbeth by diminishing his responsibility for the outcome of events in the play. Another classic tragic element is deployed in order to achieve this: fate. The three witches are instantly a malevolent presence in the play, introduced with ominous "thunder and lightning" and blurring moral boundaries: "fair is foul, foul is fair". Their prohpecies directly influence Macbeth's actions by capitalising on his fatal flaw of ambition. In the third scene they hail him and declare he "shalt be King," inciting him to act. The audience is invited to question whether Macbeth would have murdered King Duncan, had it not been for the witches intervention. This serves to undermine Macbeth's role in events, reinforcing sympathy by making him a victim of dark, supernatural villains instead of the sole perpetrator of his crimes.

(example of two beginning paragraphs)

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