The term tragic hero results from the Greek term hero which means a character who not only faces hardship and misfortune but one who also demonstrates and exhibits bravery in the face of danger. Unfortunately, in the end, the tragic hero also faces a bitter downfall. Sometimes, if not always, the tragic hero is a character that can conjure sad emotions like pity, anxiety, or distress. William Shakespeare chooses his lead character, Macbeth, to represent the tragic hero in his play Macbeth. Macbeth suffers from being the tragic hero of the play where he has numerous flaws but most noticeably his uncontrolled ambition and desire for power which leads to his tragic defeat.
It is often said that pride comes before a down fall, but pride must first trip over the truth The downfall of Oedipus is due to flaws in his character. Throughout the play “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles, Oedipus’s character has led him to make judgements that were not in his best interest. These flaws are pride, leading to overconfidence and having poor judgement. Oedipus character also show determination which throughout the play also became a flaw as well. The character of Oedipus is ruled by fate.
W.H. Auden once said, “The truly tragic kind of suffering is the kind produced and defiantly insisted upon by the hero himself so that, instead of making him better, it makes him worse.” This suffering is what makes a tragic hero, along with other criteria. As is common in all tragedies, Antigone by Sophocles contains a very obvious tragic hero. Of the many characters, two stand out with similar flaws, Antigone and Creon. They are both flawed in their excessive pride, or hubris.
The Tragedy of Gatsby Aristotle said, “A man doesn’t become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall.” A tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle, must have a flaw or error of judgement, and a reversal of fortune must occur because of the hero’s error. The character’s fate is ultimately greater than deserved, and the audience recognizes that the hero was responsible for his own downfall, leading to feelings of empathy for the character (Donovan). In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby can be viewed as a tragic hero because his tendencies to lie and deceive others, as well as himself, cost him greatly in the end. Jay Gatsby’s life was built on a foundation of lies.
Although that might be the case in other tragedies, in Othello and Oedipus Rex both forces of fate and free will were present. However, even though both free will and fate contributed to the downfalls of the tragic heroes, the impact the forces had were not equally balanced. In Othello for starters, “I pray talk me of Cassio” exposes that fate drives Othello to his end because he was easily deceived by Iago, and anytime Desdemona spoke of Cassio he was further convinced of the fabricated affair (Oth. 3.4.87). In reality, Desdemona in this conversation was simply trying to convince Othello to give Cassio back his position, but Othello viewed it as her purposely trying to change the topic about the handkerchief to her “lover” Cassio.
“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe exposes a tragic figure, Okonkwo who possesses tragic flaws that eventually lead to his own downfall hence; it categorizes Okonkwo as a tragic hero. As Aristotle defines, “tragic hero is a noble man that displays tragic flaw or hamartia”. A tragedy will frequently promote the feeling of deep condolence towards the tragic hero because it often ends deadly. The protagonist character, Okonkwo embrace the absolute fit of tragic hero. He performs fatal flaw and banishes on behalf of it only to come back seven years later in a complete disappointment.
Tragedy is intended to make catharsis by making the listeners sympathize with the tragic hero. The point of a tragic hero is to create feelings of pity and fear. A powerful tragedy leads to the audience mirroring the rise and fall of a tragic character. In the play Antigone by Sophecles, Antigone has some tragic flaws working against her; for instance, her loyalty to the gods, her stubbornness and pride, and her familial loyalty were the conspirators on Antigone’s life. Antigone’s stubbornness is a good trait for heroic character but, regrettably, it gets herself in a big trouble and also affects other characters as well.
He is considered a man of misfortune that comes to him through an error of judgment.” Notice that Aristotle uses the words he, man, and him and not she, woman, or her. This hints that the tragic hero must be a man, not a woman. A tragic hero must also have certain characteristics such as hubris, hamartia, peripeteia, anagnorisis, nemesis, and catharsis. These all mean that the character’s tragic downfall must have a beginning, middle, and end and emanate a feeling of pity and fear in the audience.
His fatal flaw of lust for Abigail triggered a series of events, which eventually led to his downfall. Proctor’s fatal flaw not only led to his own downfall but also the downfall of others. As previously stated, a tragedy is defined as “a play dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending, especially one concerning the downfall of the main character.” The Crucible is a tragedy because of the number of tragic events- namely, the executions of so many people- that take place during the play. For a play to be a tragedy, it must also have a tragic hero- the main character of the story whose fatal flaw causes their own downfall.
One notable element of tragedy is the character the tragic hero and everything that comes with a tragic hero. Lear’s being a tragic hero has terrible effects on his life, “Lear 's death was his own fault. This reason came about because of King Lear 's tragic flaw, his pride. Pride is also his reason of how he is a tragic hero.” (Jacobson) Pride is really important in this play.