The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of What Is A Tragic Hero. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.

Tragic Heroes

However, tragic heroes have occurred repeatedly in the history of literature. Shakespeare had his own brand of raging heroes like Othello, Romeo, Macbeth and Hamlet. These famous Shakespearean characters did not match the tragic heroes of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides on whose works Aristotle had based his theory but they are tragic heroes none the less.

For example, the tragic flaw of Hamlet was inaction. Now we can argue at length whether or not Aristotle would categories Hamlet as a tragic hero because such a thing was unheard of in his time.

Consciously or unconsciously, Milton also gave us a tragic hero In Satan of Paradise Lost. Again, It may be a little hard to digest that a biblical villain can be Interpreted as tragic hero but such is the beauty of literature.

Satan is hero because he has excellent leadership qualities. His famous dialogue, “better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven” clearly shows his command over himself and the people around him. He stands for knowledge instead of faith. His tragic flaw is narcissism; he is too much in love with himself to look beyond.

Therefore, if we set aside the Christian values, which of course did not exist in Aristotle time, then Satan could easily be a tragic hero. Modern writers have presented absolutely simple and ordinary people with no heroic elites whatsoever as tragic heroes.

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The most appropriate example would be Wily Loan from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Loan Is a small-time businessman, too small In stature to be a hero In the Aristotelian school but he struggles on to achieve his American dream.

Which Greek Term Refers To The Error In Judgment That Leads To The Downfall Of A Hero?

He overlooks his own failures by Investing Nils nope In Nils son’s success Ana In ten Ana Don Nils son’s respect Ana t American dream evade him and lead him to suicide. Over the years Aristotle tragic hero has been interpreted by numerous authors with improvisations, variations and different perspectives but all of them can be traced jack the original description of a tragic hero by Aristotle recorded in Poetics. Characteristics of a Tragic Hero 1. Goodness: “First and foremost the character should be good. “(Poetics) Humphrey House interprets the word “good” as “ethically good” and not as “serious” as some other critics have said.

This characteristic of “goodness” lays the very foundation of Aristotle concept of tragic hero because it helps arouse the feeling of sympathy or more appropriately pity for the character. A bad man’s fall from grace may evoke sympathy but pity is an emotion that is aroused for a character that is inherently good”. “Goodness” emphasized by Aristotle is not morality, as we understand it today. Aristotle wrote in the pre-Christian era and thus there are no Christian values of dutifulness, humility, chastity, charity and so on in “goodness”.

For Aristotle, “goodness” would be associated with “courage, temperance, liberty, gentleness, truthfulness, friendliness and even wittiness. ” 3 To illustrate a post-modern interpretation of the quality of “goodness” in a tragic hero we can analyses the work of J. K. Roiling, which is the Harry Potter series. It is essentially a fantasy novel series in seven parts. It is set in present day England and creates a whole new world of magic within the realm of existing reality. It makes you wonder if your next-door neighbor whom you always considered weird is actually a wizard belonging to this secret magical world.

The protagonist of this novel-series is a teenaged wizard, Harry Potter. He has the legacy of having destroyed the darkest and most powerful wizard of all times, Voltmeter at the age of two. Harry loses his parents in this incident and is brought up by his maternal aunt’s family (reluctantly and negligently). Thus, he does not have NY knowledge of his magical status until he gets an “owl” (letters in the magical world are delivered by owls) from Hogwash’s school of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the age of eleven asking him to Join school.

With this, his adventures in the magical world begin where he discovers his past and creates his future all the while struggling to stay alive. Harry in spite of having suffer a great tragedy at a very young age and struggling a continuously during the course of his life is not a tragic hero because he represents “hope” for the magical community and thus cannot afford to “fall”. Many readers have interpreted the character of Harry Portion’s (a magical subject analogous to chemistry) professor, Severs Snaps as that of a tragic hero. Snake’s character swings with every book in the series becoming bad to worse.

In the beginning, he is portrayed as an villous villain Decease nee seems to nylon a secret grudge against Harry and goes out of his way to make life difficult for him at Hogwash’s. As the series progresses the cause to the grudge is revealed, it is a sour relationship Snaps shared with Harry father when the two were in school together. Snaps has a reputation for urging Dark magic and was once a devout follower of the notorious Voltmeter. The build up to Snake’s character is such that until the moment of discovery one does not know his tragedy, which happened to be his love for Harry mother, Lily.

In the tussle between Dark arts and Lily, he chooses the former and loses her forever. However, he continues to love her even after her tragic death resulting from dark arts. Her death turns him around. Behind the faded of dislike, he protects her only child Harry and finally lays down his life for him. All this comes in a flashback at the ND of the last novel of the series. In this case, the “change from ignorance to knowledge” is not for the character but from the readers, which is the exact reverse of what would happen in Classical Greek tragedy that Aristotle describes.

Now it may be argued that Snaps is more of a Byronic hero that a tragic hero which of course has some degree of truth. How can a character who is already “fallen” be a tragic hero? However, if we look closely Snake’s death that happens Just after the flashback leading to discovery is a “fall” and it arouses a tremendous effect of pity for IM on the part of readers because the emotion of pity is laced with the guilt of having misunderstood him along. If “goodness” in a tragic hero is not obvious, it is goodness nevertheless and therefore Snaps is as much a tragic hero as Oedipus.

Appropriateness of Character: Beater interprets appropriateness to be “nothing at variance with that of the class to which the individual belongs. “_3 Lucas goes a step further by saying “true to type”. _3 House argues that Aristotle did not want the poet to create merely typical characters. He writes, “There is no word in Greek at all corresponding to type”_3 The rod “appropriate” translated from Greek roughly means “fitting” but fitting what or who is open to interpretation.

The Aristotelian tragic hero always has a high station in society, so we may assume that the character must “fit” a position of power but that is too simplistic an assumption. Aristotle is descriptive not prescriptive. He describes the Greek society he lived in, where a man could not rise above the class he was born in and women were not even citizens. Thus when we says that “women” are “inferior” and “slaves” are “insignificant” even if they happen to possess goodness” then he means that the audience would not take such a hero with the seriousness due to a tragic hero.

However, he does not suggest that female tragic hero cannot exist. The same Sophocles who wrote Oedipus Rexes wrote a tragedy named Antigen, which has a female tragic hero. Antigen is part of the Thebes plays. After Oedipus leaves Thebes, there is a battle for the throne in which the two sons of Oedipus end up killing each other. Croon, the brother in law of Oedipus become the king and orders one of the brothers to be left to rot on the battlefield because he was the aggressor. I Nils Is ten worst Tort Insult to a Greek warrior Ana lupus’s gaunter Antigen cannot digest this dishonor meted out to her brother.

She is torn between her love for her family and her loyalty to the King. She decides to give her brother a burial and is caught doing so. Croon gives her a death sentence but her courage and sense of duty wins her the sympathy of the people of Thebes. The tragic flaw of Antigen is her arrogance, her determination to act alone. That is why she rebukes help from her sister and lover (Screen’s son) leading to her self-inflicted death. Antigen is an “appropriate” character because she is a “womanly’ woman as Humphrey House puts it. She is sentimental, loving, believes in doing the right thing and is courageous fitting her royal status. Had she been blindly ambitious like Lady Macbeth or unfaithful as Cleopatra then Aristotle would have found her “manly’ and therefore inappropriate.

Likeness of Character

“The third is to make them like… ” (Poetics) The most acceptable interpretation of this characteristic is “likeness to original”. Beater interprets it, as like THE reality ” Butcher says,” character must be true to fife 4 Aristotle does not mention “like what? ” and thus we are free to make our own judgments. Thus, the most likely meaning of “like” would be bearing resemblance to real life r simply believable.


Consistency is an irrefutable characteristic of any character. A character has to have “consistent” to seem real or believable. However, consistency does not mean predictability. Aristotle clearly states that a character can be “consistently inconsistent”. Consistency can be interpreted as a coherent pattern of behavior or habitual tendency. For example, Oedipus of Oedipus Rexes, is a man associated with retreats and thus we expect him to keep his word and gouge out his eyes in repentance. It is shocking but believable. However, if a low-lifer like Ago of Othello shows the same kind of repentance then it would be an inconsistency. This is because there is no prior indication given by Shakespeare that the character of Ago may have such potential.

Hamlet or Tragic Flaw

“The hero should be an intermediate kind of personage not pre-eminently virtuous or just. ” (Poetics) Aristotle clearly states that a hero should be less than perfect. He does not describe what moral imperfections he must have. It has already been established that morality in the modern sense does not hold good for interpreting Aristotle. “misfortune… Is brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error of judgment. ” (Poetics) If we compare the two above statements quoted from Poetics, we can safely conclude that Aristotle is deliberately separating, the hero as being less than perfect and the error in Judgment that brings about his downfall (Hamlet). Hamlet Is not Inclusive AT ten moral constrictors In a Nero. As Butcher says, “Hamlet is not a moral state but a specific error which a man makes or commits.

Therefore, when we say that pride and Jealousy is the Harming of Othello then we are not being technically correct. The tragic flaw of Othello was his error in Judging Ago and putting his trust in the wrong man. Most modern critics have interpreted Hamlet as “error which is derived from ignorance of some material fact or circumstance. However, it must be understood that a tragic hero who has a Harming that matches Aristotle description word to word can be found only in Classical Greek tragedy where Destiny is the villain and the hero falls not for his own flaws but for trying to outsmart Destiny

In a majority of he tragedies written since, the tragic hero’s Hamlet arises out of the inherent moral imperfections in him. Conclusion To conclude lets take the example of Chance Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. It is set in a tribal forest of the lower Niger. The tragic hero is a man named Awoken, about whom the narrator says, “… His whole life was dominated by fear, fear of failure and weakness. ” In addition, “Awoken never showed any emotion openly unless it was the emotion of anger. ” Fear is Ginkgo’s moral shortcoming and his fear gives rise to his anger. In the novel, it is his anger that leads to his downfall.

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What Is A Tragic Hero. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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