A Tragic Hero And An Anti Hero Essay

A Tragic Hero And An Anti Hero Essay

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Like Aristotle had once said about tragedy, it is “the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in appropriate and pleasurable language; … in a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, where with to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions. A tragedy, therefore, is a kind of lie (“imitation”) that tells a certain truth about human nature and the self. Classical tragic heroes possess hamartia or a tragic flaw, such as hubris, that often lead to the character’s own downfall; and according to Aristotle, "A man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall." The protagonist must not only possess this hamartia but must come to accept his or her flaws as a real character, whom the audience can identify and relate with. The difference between a tragic hero and an anti-hero can be described as almost indistinguishable, sharing some overlapping characteristics.
In J.D. Salinger 's Catcher in the Rye, the anti-hero Holden Caulfield is constantly seen projecting extreme hate towards the pretentious society that ironically composes his upbringing. Despite being enrolled in several prestigious institutions by his parents, he intentionally gets himself expelled from them, to surround himself with a greater truth, real people, as he wanders off in New York. He struggles in searching for a certain kind of love that is unrequited. Through seemingly unrelated encounters with different kinds of individuals along his journey, Holden finds himself connected to certain characters, but he often cannot come to accept them for who they are, a recurring theme. The Catcher in the Rye does not follow or have a traditional plot line or a hero. Holden nar...


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...ero from himself, in thus, making him a hero. The internal conflict with dealing with these emotions are relatable and reflective of one’s change into adulthood, a moment that is defined through the loss of innocence and struggle, which reveal one’s own change in viewing the world more differently than before. “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one” (Salinger 188). The decision that Holden chooses is to become the latter, a mature man than an immature one, that Mr. Antonili had insinuated that he was going on the path of an endless cycle of contradictions. It is not adequate for one person to become the “catcher in the rye”; everyone is their “catcher in the rye”; and therefore, it is not a tragedy, but a revelation of truth, an epiphany that they share.

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