The first step of the Classical Tragic Mold is recognizing the problem. The problem in Macbeth is not a true problem that presents itself outwardly. The problem for the character of Macbeth is deciding if he should listen to his ambition and kill Duncan. At first, he ponders reasons why not to kill his king.
He at first thinks that he cannot kill him because of four reasons: Macbeth is Duncan’s subject, Duncan is a good king, they are blood-related, and Macbeth is his host. These reasons dissuade Macbeth at first, but later Lady Macbeth convinces him, by questioning his manhood, to commit the dastardly crime. When he finally murders Duncan, the problem comes to closure. But, even long before then, the next step in the mold had begun: the descent into the abyss.
The “decent into the abyss” is the second step in the Classical Tragic Mold. It is started with Macbeth’s second soliloquy. This is after Macbeth hears from Duncan that Malcolm was to be named the Prince of Cumberland. “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies . .
. Let not light see my black and deep desires. ” (Shakespeare, 281). This quote from the soliloquy indicates that Macbeth has, indeed, told himself that he will commit the murder of Duncan, although he doesn’t actually admit it until his wife pressures him to do so.
With this decision, the reader (or audience) reads (or sees) that Macbeth is straying from the righteous path, and descending into the abyss, even though he is keeping his feelings to himself. His decision to murder Duncan tarnishes his “war hero” image and casts it in an ominous shadow. The third step in the mold has two parts and is known as Transformation and Transcendence. The character of Macbeth goes into Transformation during his fourth soliloquy.
“. . . I have lived long enough. My way of life is fall’n into the sear.
. . ” (Shakespeare, 343). This quote illustrates that Macbeth begins to realize that his life has fallen into a wretched state and that either the battle will dethrone him or make him invincible. His character has transformed from an ambitious, power-hungry man, to one who knows that either his end or glorification may be near, and will fight his hardest to try to keep himself alive, even if it means helping the sinister process along by failing in his cause.
The second part of this step is Transcendence. When a character finally meets with this step, he or she becomes a universal character. Macbeth states, “. . . Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player.
. . upon the stage. . .
It is a tale told by an idiot. . . signifying nothing.
” (Shakespeare, 346). In this soliloquy, Shakespeare turns Macbeth into a universal character by claiming that people are like actors on a stage. It doesn’t matter what they do because it is just a play, and no one’s actions will truly effect anything. The substance of Macbeth is that of which Classical Tragic Heroes are fashioned.
Because he follows the mold well, Macbeth is an excellent example of why the Greek rules of the theatre are still used as the basis of many plays today, as well as back in the age of Shakespeare. The Classical Tragic Mold is used to shape a tragic hero into a character that can be repeated over and over, in countless plays and more. Macbeth was developed in this way, using this mold.