preview

Is Achilles a Tragic Hero?

Better Essays
Dictionary.com defines a tragic hero as a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall (“Tragic Hero”). Aristotle defined a tragic hero as a literary character who makes a judgment error that inevitably leads to his own destruction (“English IV Class Discussion”, 2016). A tragic hero must be physically or spiritually wounded by his experiences, often resulting in his death; intelligent so he may learn from his mistakes; have a weakness, usually it is pride; and be faced with a very serious decision that he must make (“Tragic hero as defined by Aristotle”). Achilles, Hector, Beowulf, and Hamlet all exhibit these characteristics and, as a result, can be seen as prime examples of tragic heroes. To be considered…show more content…
The intelligence of Achilles proves him to be a tragic hero. Achilles’ extreme intelligence allowed him to think in the most complicated situations. When Achilles made nonsensical decisions, Achilles knew of his foolishness and the possible outcome of his decision. Achilles’ intelligence shows when Achilles decides to enter the Trojan War. Achilles knew that he would be killed in the war; however, Achilles chose to die in the war and be considered a hero over dying as an old man and being considered a coward ("Learning from Achilles"). Hector shows his intelligence by leading the Trojans. A specific instance when Hector showed his intelligence has never been revealed; however, Hector must be intelligent to be the leader of the most feared army at that point in time. Beowulf shows his intelligence when he confronts Grendel. Beowulf deceives Grendel by pretending to be asleep. As Grendel reached for Beowulf’s sleeping hand, Beowulf surprised Grendel by meeting his hand. Beowulf then tears Grendel’s arm from Grendel’s body, killing Grendel ("Beowulf for Beginners - The Fight With Grendel"). Hamlet shows his intelligence by pretending to be a mad man. Hamlet proves that one must be highly intelligent to accomplish a task such as pretending to be mad. Hamlet also shows his intelligence when he finds a way around being sent to England to be beheaded.…show more content…
Achilles must decide to not enter the Trojan War and die as an old man with no glory, or enter the Trojan War and die with glory as a warrior. Achilles decides to enter the war and die with glory (Homer, Murray, Wyatt, 1999). Hector must decide to go behind the wall and not face Achilles or to not go behind the wall and face Achilles. Hector decides to not go behind the wall and to face Achilles (Homer, Murray, Wyatt, 1999). Beowulf decides to fight the dragon alone. Many people were telling Beowulf that he could not defeat the dragon alone, but Beowulf insisted on fighting alone. However, in the end Beowulf did not defeat the dragon alone. Wiglaf slayed the dragon after the dragon had wounded Beowulf on the back of the neck (“Beowulf”). Hamlet struggles to decide when to kill King Claudius. Hamlet craves to kill Claudius immediately; however, Hamlet must wait. Hamlet must first confirm that the ghost is King Hamlet and that King Claudius actually assassinated King Hamlet. After Hamlet confirmed that the ghost was in fact King Hamlet, Hamlet began to plan the murder of King Claudius. Hamlet then decided that he had to wait for the perfect time to kill Claudius. Hamlet had to be sure to kill Claudius when he had not asked for forgiveness (Shakespeare,
Get Access