A tragic hero is a literary term used in drama, film and theatre to refer to the protagonist of an otherwise tragic play or story. The tragedy stems from the fact that he has been brought down by his hubris, overreaching ambition or another form of folly. He often dies at their hands as a result.
Tragic heroes are literary characters who conflict with society and its expectations. They often have tragic flaws that make them unfit for society, but they also have heroic qualities that allow them to do great things.
Some may argue that it is simpler to make someone weep than to make them laugh. In some ways, they are correct. However, building a sad and humorous persona is a difficult challenge.
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Definition of a Tragic Hero
So, what is the definition of a tragic hero? We’ve come up with a simple and logical definition for you:
Tragic heroes are often characters who appear in tragedies. Those characters often face adversity and make blunders during the tale. They go through ups and downs in their lives and are frequently sympathized with by the audience.
From Shakespeare’s famed and classic Romeo and Juliet with a brilliant thesis, Rome is one of the most famous tragic protagonists. His love is a huge passion that takes him to the grave. It’s the most terrible conclusion a character could have.
Here are some fascinating facts about the classical tragic hero:
- An ancient Greek mythology philosopher, Aristotle was the first to identify and characterize such a personality.
- The term “hero” may not necessarily imply a hero in the traditional sense. Usually, they aren’t even heroes. Instead of a typical protagonist, they are characters and occasionally villains.
A Little Background Information
The fundamental characteristic that distinguishes this sort of character is a tragedy. Here’s where you can perform some basic research. But, like every other genre or character, the tragic hero evolved with time.
Tragic Hero of Antiquity
As previously stated, Aristotle was the first to coin the phrase “tragic hero.” He thought that a good tragedy should elicit a few primary sorts of emotions from the audience:
According to Aristotle, these are the basic sentiments for a genuine catharsis experience. Aristotle offers another sad list:
- In ancient art, the tragic figure was expected to be noble. At the same time, a heroic element must be present. As a result, we may expect the figure to function as a role model and provide a compelling message. However, the spectator should still feel pity and fear.
- This sort of person’s life and flow should have a sad sense. Hamartia is another name for this condition. A specific life event should cause a character’s decline.
- All these life challenges should make you feel like you know the tragic hero. You’re aware of some of their problems and defects.
- When we speak about a tragic hero, as the ancients understood it, one of the primary factors that impact all of the characters is a fortune.
Tragic Hero of the Modern Era
The overall look of the modern tragic hero has been streamlined in modern times.
- It no longer matters if the character comes from a noble family. It makes no difference what gender or class you belong to. Tragic heroes may be men or women from various social backgrounds.
- You don’t have to make a true hero these days. It might be anybody with a compelling tale to tell. Those individuals could not be classified as heroes. However, it just signifies that such a good person lacks heroic characteristics. They may even have the potential to be a villain. You may use some of their words as citations.
At the same time, just a handful of Aristotle’s main characteristics are still relevant in current art. The audience should constantly sympathize with your sad hero. Sad occurrences, blunders, and good fortune are crucial in developing the character and giving it a tragic name.
Examples of Tragic Heroes
There are many outstanding instances of tragic heroes who are both traditional and classical. Here are a few of them for your consideration.
- William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a well-known dramatic play. It relates to the narrative of a man who, with the help of his wife, murders his king because of a prophecy. Then, as the narrative progresses, his murders get more bloody, and Macbeth becomes a true villain. He discovers that all his close friends, including his wife, have passed away and that his life has been spent.
- Michael Corleone is a fascinating character from the famous Godfather trilogy. In all three episodes, Michael tries to escape his destiny as a mobster until his daughter is slain by his enemies in the finale. And this catastrophe occurred after Corleone completed the last step toward legal life. Even though he is a true antihero, the viewer sympathizes with him since it is evident that becoming a mafioso was not his decision and that he was attempting to rescue his family.
- Anakin Skywalker: We can observe Anakin Skywalker developing into a tragic hero throughout all three iconic sections of Star Wars. A misunderstood and lost individual who eventually becomes the series’ major antagonist. He begins as one of the world’s purest and most positive heroes, wielding enormous power. However, to have greater control over the situation, he falls into the Dark Side’s trap, becoming the only Darth Vader. In some ways, he’s just a victim of unfortunate circumstances.
The Tragic Hero’s Role
One thing is certain: there can be no tragedy without tragic heroes. In the first place, such tragic personalities provide the point of tragedy.
Our pity and other key sentiments are triggered by their demise and life struggles. They sometimes teach us a lesson by instilling dread in us. Tragic heroes are often richer and more nuanced than other characters in a story or film.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a tragic hero’s simple definition?
A: A tragic hero is a protagonist in a work of literature that has an inflated sense of self-importance and believes the ends justify the means. Some examples are Oedipus, Macbeth and King Lear.
What are the 4 characteristics of a tragic hero?
A: The 4 characteristics of a tragic hero are that he is the protagonist, has an inner conflict, suffers from hubris with great consequences, and eventually dies.
What are the 5 characteristics of a tragic hero?
A: A tragic hero is someone who does not realize their power and leads a miserable life because of it. They are often portrayed as an underdog, but one that has exceptional powers or skills. This type of character typically experiences some downfall due to this lack of self-awareness, and the audience feels sympathy for them while they watch their tragedy unfold on screen.