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Julian Savin
Julian Savin

The Impact of Tragic Hero's Downfall on Society and Other Characters



Introduction




A tragic hero is a type of character in a tragedy, who is usually the protagonist or the main character. Tragic heroes typically have heroic traits that earn them the sympathy of the audience, but also have flaws or make mistakes that ultimately lead to their own downfall.




tragic hero essay conclusion



The concept of tragic hero was first defined by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who based his analysis on Greek drama. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must be virtuous, imperfect, prideful, doomed by fate but also responsible for his own actions, aware of his impending fate and accepting it, harmed throughout his life, and facing an important decision that causes his downfall.


Some examples of tragic heroes in literature are Oedipus from Oedipus Rex, Macbeth from Macbeth, Hamlet from Hamlet, Romeo from Romeo and Juliet, Okonkwo from Things Fall Apart, Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman, and John Proctor from The Crucible.


The purpose of this essay is to analyze how different aspects of tragedy contribute to the downfall of a tragic hero. The essay will focus on the role of tragic flaw, fate and free will, catharsis, impact on other characters and society, and lessons learned from tragic hero's downfall.


The role of tragic flaw in tragic hero's downfall




One of the key characteristics of a tragic hero is that he has a tragic flaw or a hamartia. A hamartia is a personal defect or weakness that causes the tragic hero to make a fatal error in judgment that leads to his demise.


For example, Oedipus' hamartia is his excessive pride and self-confidence that makes him ignore the prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Macbeth's hamartia is his ambition and greed that drives him to murder King Duncan and usurp his throne. Hamlet's hamartia is his indecision and procrastination that prevents him from avenging his father's death. Romeo's hamartia is his impulsive and passionate love for Juliet that makes him defy his family and the law.


The tragic flaw of a tragic hero is often related to his heroic qualities, such as courage, loyalty, honor, or justice. However, these qualities are taken to an extreme or misused by the tragic hero, resulting in his downfall. For instance, Okonkwo's hamartia is his fear of weakness and failure that makes him reject his father's legacy and act violently and rigidly. Jay Gatsby's hamartia is his idealism and devotion to Daisy that blinds him to the reality of her corruption and betrayal. Willy Loman's hamartia is his delusion and obsession with the American dream that alienates him from his family and reality. John Proctor's hamartia is his pride and integrity that makes him refuse to confess to witchcraft and save his life.


The role of fate and free will in tragic hero's downfall




Another aspect of tragedy that influences the downfall of a tragic hero is the balance between fate and free will. Fate is the predetermined or inevitable course of events that affects the tragic hero's life. Free will is the ability of the tragic hero to make choices and act according to his own will.


Tragic heroes are often doomed by fate from the beginning, but they also have some degree of control over their own destiny. They are not mere victims of fate, but also agents of their own downfall. They make choices that either align with or go against their fate, and they face the consequences of their actions.


For instance, Oedipus is fated to kill his father and marry his mother, but he also chooses to leave Corinth and pursue the truth about his identity. Macbeth is fated to become king, but he also chooses to murder Duncan and commit more crimes to secure his power. Hamlet is fated to avenge his father's death, but he also chooses to delay his action and feign madness. Romeo is fated to love Juliet, but he also chooses to marry her secretly and kill Tybalt.


The role of catharsis in tragic hero's downfall




A third element of tragedy that affects the downfall of a tragic hero is catharsis. Catharsis is the emotional effect that tragedy has on the audience. It is the process of releasing strong or pent-up emotions through art.


Aristotle argued that a good tragedy must evoke feelings of pity and fear in the audience, since he saw these two emotions as being fundamental to the experience of catharsis. Pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves.


Tragic heroes evoke pity and fear in the audience because they are relatable and sympathetic characters who suffer more than they deserve. The audience feels pity for the tragic hero's misfortune and fear for their own vulnerability. The audience also identifies with the tragic hero's struggle between fate and free will, between good and evil, between duty and desire.


By experiencing pity and fear, the audience undergoes a purgation or purification of these emotions. They are relieved of their excess emotions and achieve a state of balance or harmony. They also gain a deeper understanding of human nature and life.


Some examples of catharsis in different tragic heroes are: The audience feels pity for Oedipus' blindness and exile, fear for their own ignorance and fate. The audience feels pity for Macbeth's guilt and isolation, fear for their own ambition and corruption. The audience feels pity for Hamlet's madness and death, fear for their own indecision and mortality. The audience feels pity for Romeo and Juliet's suicide, fear for their own love and loss.


The impact of tragic hero's downfall on other characters and society




The downfall of a tragic hero does not only affect himself but also other characters and society as a whole. The downfall of a tragic hero exposes the flaws and conflicts in the social order and causes a change or restoration of order.


The tragic hero's downfall often results in the death or suffering of other innocent or guilty characters who are involved in his story. The tragic hero may also cause harm or damage to the physical or moral environment around him.


The tragic hero's downfall also reveals the problems or contradictions in the society or culture that he belongs to. The tragic hero may challenge or question the values, norms, laws, or institutions that govern his society. The tragic hero may also represent or symbolize a larger issue or theme that affects his society.


The lessons learned from tragic hero's downfall




The final aspect of tragedy that this essay will discuss is the lessons learned from tragic hero's downfall. The downfall of a tragic hero teaches us moral, ethical, or philosophical lessons that can be applied to our own lives.


The lessons learned from tragic hero's downfall may vary depending on the context and interpretation of the tragedy. However, some common themes or messages that can be derived from tragic hero's downfall are:


  • The importance of moderation and balance in life. Tragic heroes often suffer from excess or deficiency of certain qualities or emotions that lead to their downfall. For example, Oedipus suffers from excessive pride, Macbeth from excessive ambition, Hamlet from excessive indecision, Romeo from excessive passion. We can learn from their mistakes and avoid extremes in our own lives.



  • The importance of self-knowledge and self-control. Tragic heroes often lack awareness or understanding of themselves or their situation. They also fail to control their impulses or desires that cause them to act irrationally or immorally. For example, Oedipus lacks knowledge of his true identity and origin, Macbeth lacks control over his greed and guilt, Hamlet lacks clarity of his purpose and action, Romeo lacks restraint of his love and anger. We can learn from their failures and strive to know ourselves better and act more wisely.



  • The importance of responsibility and accountability. Tragic heroes often try to escape or deny their responsibility or accountability for their actions or consequences. They also blame others or external forces for their misfortune. For example, Oedipus tries to escape his fate and accuses others of plotting against him, Macbeth tries to deny his guilt and blames fate and witches for his crimes, Hamlet tries to avoid his duty and blames his madness and circumstances for his delay, Romeo tries to defy his fate and blames fortune and fate for his tragedy. We can learn from their shortcomings and accept our responsibility and accountability for our choices and outcomes.



Conclusion




In conclusion, this essay has analyzed how different aspects of tragedy contribute to the downfall of a tragic hero. The essay has focused on the role of tragic flaw, fate and free will, catharsis, impact on other characters and society, and lessons learned from tragic hero's downfall.


The essay has argued that a tragic hero is a type of character in a tragedy who has heroic traits but also flaws or mistakes that lead to his demise. The essay has also shown how the tragic hero's downfall is influenced by internal and external factors that evoke pity and fear in the audience and cause a change or restoration of order in society. The essay has also suggested some moral, ethical, or philosophical lessons that can be learned from the tragic hero's downfall.


The topic of tragic hero is a rich and complex one that can be explored further in different ways. Some possible suggestions for further research or analysis are:


  • Comparing and contrasting different types of tragic heroes in different genres or periods of literature.



  • Examining the cultural or historical influences on the concept and representation of tragic hero.



  • Evaluating the relevance or applicability of tragic hero to contemporary society or issues.



FAQs




  • What is a tragic hero?



A tragic hero is a type of character in a tragedy who is usually the protagonist or the main character. Tragic heroes typically have heroic traits that earn them the sympathy of the audience, but also have flaws or make mistakes that ultimately lead to their own downfall.


  • What are the characteristics of a tragic hero?



According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must be virtuous, imperfect, prideful, doomed by fate but also responsible for his own actions, aware of his impending fate and accepting it, harmed throughout his life, and facing an important decision that causes his downfall.


  • What is a tragic flaw?



A tragic flaw or a hamartia is a personal defect or weakness that causes the tragic hero to make a fatal error in judgment that leads to his demise.


  • What is catharsis?



Catharsis is the emotional effect that tragedy has on the audience. It is the process of releasing strong or pent-up emotions through art.


  • What are some examples of tragic heroes in literature?



Some examples of tragic heroes in literature are Oedipus from Oedipus Rex, Macbeth from Macbeth, Hamlet from Hamlet, Romeo from Romeo and Juliet, Okonkwo from Things Fall Apart, Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman, and John Proctor from The Crucible.


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