By definition a tragic hero is a person of noble birth with heroic or potentially heroic qualities. This person is fated by the Gods or by some supernatural force to doom and destruction or at least to great suffering. Macbeth of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Anakin Skywalker of George Lucas’ Star Wars series are two men who grow up with great potential, becoming idolized warriors of their own story, eventually coming across a foul way to make their selves greater, and after taking one bad turn they lose themselves completely becoming savage tyrants and abusing their power beyond belief.
These stories are similar in this sense along with many other symbols like decapitation, prophecies, the devils role, and loss of innocence. Macbeth emerges as a bold and noble hero, accompanied by his partner, Banquo, the already successful warrior is introduced in a vicious battle between the kingdom of Scotland and the traitor, Macdonwald, and his army. Macbeth engages in battle with Macdonwald, eventually defeating him. When he returns home he is celebrated as a war hero and is given Macdonwald’s former title, thane of Cawdor. Revenge of the Sith ? also opens with a battle, in which Anakin Skywalker and his master Obi-Wan Kenobi attempt to rescue the captive Chancellor of the Republic, Palpatine. When they are faced by Count Dooku, the holder of Palpatine, Obi-Wan is injured by the Count and Anakin must fight him alone. Anakin succeeds in his task as Macbeth succeeds in his and both men proceed to decapitate their opponent. Anakin is also rewarded for his deeds when he returns home, becoming a representative of the Jedi Council.
When Macbeth is told of his prophecies by the weird sisters he is doubtful, that is until the first prophecy is fulfilled “ Macbeth is named thane of Cawdor. Macbeth foolishly reveals the prophecies to his wife, Lady Macbeth, without the knowledge that she is an evil villain in her own right. Lady Macbeth desires to be queen more than Macbeth desires the thrown himself, and when she learns of the prophecies she pressures Macbeth into killing King Duncan, the current king of Scotland; the igniter in Macbeth’s tragic downfall. Shakespeare writes: “LADY MACBETH: Was the hope drunk Wherein you dress’d yourself? ath it slept since? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely? From this time Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard To be the same in thine own act and valour As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own esteem, Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would,’ Like the poor cat i’ the adage? ? (1. 7 36-46) Lady Macbeth challenges her husband’s manhood and calls him a coward after he says to her that he does not want to go through with the deed, leading to Duncan’s death and Macbeth’s reign of terror.Order now
Anakin is part of a prophecy of his own, in the first episode of the Star Wars series “The Phantom Menace ? Anakin is visited by a Jedi master who tells him he is the prophesied chosen one, holding great power and potential, forcing him to believe that he will become the most powerful Jedi of all time. Anakin is also troubled by terrible nightmares that show the death of his (already deceased) mother, and what appears to be the death of Anakin’s wife, Padme, during childbirth, though she is still living.
Anakin makes it his ultimate goal to save Padme, promising to do anything to keep her alive, unaware that she will not die during childbirth regardless. When it is revealed that Palpatine is not who he says he is but is actually the Dark Lord of the Sith, he proposes the definite life of Padme in return for Anakin’s allegiance to the dark side, Anakin accepts. Palpatine also prompts Anakin’s first killing (the killing of Count Dooku) in this scene by George Lucas: “Anakin and Dooku continue their fight. It is intense!
Finally, in one last energized charge, ANAKIN cuts off COUNT DOOKU’s hands. The Jedi catches the lightsaber as it drops from the severed Sith Lord’s hand. COUNT DOOKU stumbles to the floor as ANAKIN puts the two lightsabers to his neck. PALPATINE is grinning as he watches COUNT DOOKU’s defeat. PALPATINE: Good, Anakin, good. I knew you could do it. Kill him. Kill him now! ANAKIN: I shouldn’t . . . PALPATINE: Do it!! ANAKIN cuts off COUNT DOOKU’s head. A huge EXPLOSION somewhere deep in the ship rattles everything. ANAKIN: … I couldn’t stop myself.
PALPATINE: You did well, Anakin. He was too dangerous to be kept alive. ? Palpatine and Lady Macbeth symbolize the devil on Macbeth and Anakin’s shoulder, as they convince them that the wrong thing to do is actually the right thing to do, promoting the eventual downfall of both characters. After Macbeth becomes king of Scotland he seeks to secure himself by eliminating any threats he sees. Among these threats is Macduff, another lord of Scotland, who has already fled Scotland in attempt to build an army and take Macbeth out himself.
When Macbeth realizes this he proceeds to gather his army of noblemen and begin the most ruthless slaying of his reign, the massacre of MacDuff’s castle, killing everyone in sight including servants, children, and MacDuff’s wife. Shakespeare writes: “MACBETH: Bring me no more reports; let them fly all: Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane, I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know All mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: ‘Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of woman
Shall e’er have power upon thee. ‘ Then fly, false thanes, And mingle with the English epicures: The mind I sway by and the heart I bear Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear. ? Macbeth has lost all fear, doubt, and innocence at this point; he sees himself as invincible and feels no remorse for any murders he commits and will continue killing until he feels safe and secured. Anakin also has a stage where he loses his innocence. After essentially losing everything he’s got he fully embraces the dark side.
With Palpatine as his mentor he sheds his identity, becoming “Darth Vader ?. Brainwashed into thinking the Jedi are a threat to the galaxy, Vader storms the Jedi Temple killing anyone in sight, again, including children, servants, and the wives of his former partners and friends. Jedi across the galaxy are slaughtered by storm troopers are Palpatine orders them to kill any Jedi encountered. Vader is then struck down by his former partner, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Because of the evil doings they commit, Macbeth and Vader are now firmly established as true villains.
When MacDuff learns of the atrocities Macbeth has placed on his castle he is infuriated, proceeding to Scotland with his army behind him. This time Macbeth is without his wife, Lady Macbeth, who has previously given him a type of courage to go through with his vicious attacks, this gives the scene a different vibe, a feeling of absence to the King. Still, Macbeth is not afraid of the MacDuff or his army as he truly believes he is invincible to anyone born of women, due to the second set of prophecies laid by the weird sisters, he takes on MacDuff with this in mind.
However, it is later revealed that MacDuff was born of a Caesarian section and was torn from his mother’s womb. MacDuff proceeds to attack Macbeth, eventually defeating the beast and decapitating him. In Vader’s final scene he goes out much more respectfully, by overthrowing his master, Palpatine, and tossing him into a bottomless pit. Vader then reunites with his son Luke, releases his helmet, and dies. Though the deaths are very different, the sort of headless symbol is there.
Macbeth’s lust for power leads to a terrible transformation from an ambitious, loyal, and noble soldier into a disgusting monster and tyrant. Anakin’s desire to save the life of his wife Padme leads to his transformation to the terrible Darth Vader. Both eventually facing the consequences of their terrible deeds; Vader has his limbs cut off by his former partner, and Macbeth’s head is severed by one of his former partners. Vader and Macbeth are both prime examples of the archetypal tragic hero: they live the life of an ambitious hero until they fall victim to doom and suffering.