Hamlet: Shakespeare Tragic Hero In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the main character is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. Hamlet is considered to be a tragic hero because he has a tragic flaw that in the end, is the cause of his downfall. The play is an example of a Shakespearean tragic play because it has all of the characteristics of the tragic play. As defined by Aristotle, a tragic play has a beginning, middle, and end; unity of time and place; a tragic hero; and the concept of catharsis. One of the main reasons this play is considered a tragic play is because the main character is a tragic hero.
In the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus is a classic tragic hero. According to Aristotle's definition, Oedipus is a tragic hero because he is a king whose life falls apart when he finds out his life story. There are a number of characteristics described by Aristotle that identify a tragic hero. For example, a tragic hero must cause his own downfall; his fate is not deserved, and his punishment exceeds the crime; he also must be of noble stature and have greatness. Oedipus is in love with his idealized self, but neither the grandiose nor the depressive "Narcissus" can really love himself (Miller 67).
Das Brütus: A Tragic Hero In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, Brutus is the quintessence of a tragic hero. Webster’s Dictionary defines tragic hero as “Any person, especially a man, admired for courage, nobility etc. … in a serious play with an unhappy ending” (277-626). This verbatim definition, however, is useless in an analytical essay. The idea of a tragic hero comes from Aristotle, who thought a tragic hero involved a character of high standing suffering a downfall caused by one or two character flaws.
According to philosopher, Aristotle, the definition of a tragic hero is one that is of greatness and dignity but, despite their greatness, makes an error, otherwise known as the hero’s “tragic flaw” or “hamartia” which leads to his downfall. In William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, the main protagonist and round character, Macbeth starts as a man of greatness and dignity. His assumed loyalty to the country and king earns him respect from a variety of men and the title “Thane of Cawdor.” But, unfortunately because of his tragic flaw he is corrupted by his overwhelming ambition and destroys himself and the natural order of man. Macbeth transitions from the savior of his country, “Bellona’s bridegroom”, a “brave” and unbeatable man to a man of endless brutality. Macbeth is the epitome of a tragic hero.
The point is not to denounce Oedipus’ role as a tragic hero, but to denounce his role as the only tragic character. First, defining the term “tragic hero” would be beneficial in determining Jocasta’s status. Tragedy is “a drama representing an important event generally having a fatal issue; a fatal and mournful event; a murderous or bloody deed” ("Tragedy"). The definition of hero is “the person who has the principle share in some exploit” ("Hero"). Stanley Garden’s internet page Tragic Hero defines tragic hero as the following: “In a tragic play, the tragic hero usually does some fearful deed which ultimately destroys him.
I believe that it is a tragedy because of Hamlet's tragic flaw. Hamlet's tragic flaw is that he cannot act on impulse for things that require quick, decisive behavior, and that he acts on impulse for things that require more contemplation than is given by him. Hamlet speaks of his father's tragic flaw that ultimately led him to his death, but it applies equally well to himself: So, oft it chances in particular men, That for some vicious mole of nature in them, As, in their birth, wherein they are not guilty (Since nature cannot choose his origin), By the o'ergrowth of some complexion, Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason, Or by some habit that too much o'er-leavens The form of plausive manners--that these men, Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect, Being nature's livery, or fortune's star, Their virtues else, be they as pure as grace, As infinite as man may undergo, Shall in the general censure take corruption From that particular fault. The dram of evil Doth all the noble substance of a doubt To his own scandal. (1.4.23-38) Hamlet speaks of the one defect that is in particular men from birth, and the fact that that one defect is his "particular fault".
Overall Macbeth is not a tragedy according the Aristotle's standards. Macbeth's downfall does follow the guidelines: he has something to lose, he has a downfall, and he has conflicts with his friends and relatives during his downfall. But, the heart of the play, which is the emotions created, just do not follow Aristotle's standards. The reader should feel pity, and grieve. Yet, there is no reason to feel this way because Macbeth is all evil, and in the end, the "good guy" is restored to power.
“A man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall.”(Aristotle). It should be noted that the Heroes downfall is his own fault as a result of his own free will, At times his death is seen as a waste of human potential. His death usually is not a pure loss, because it results in greater knowledge and awareness. In Julius Ceasar, William Shakespeare develops Marcus Brutus as the Tragic Hero whose ambition and naivety in his blind confidence in the nobility of man sparked guidance in a series of events which inevitably forced him to succumb to self destruction. First and foremost Brutus is the Tragic Hero of the play as has been said.
Macbeth is a Tragic Hero in Shakespeare's Macbeth A tragic hero is said to be doomed from his beginning. Though courage and loyalty dwell in him, the temptation of superior life can be unsurpassable, and a civil person can display vicious, primitive attitudes and carry out evil deeds. Macbeth was an unfortunate man, who seemed insatiable, pitiless, and power-hungry, but really just attempted to cover up a tiny weakness he obtained through incidences beyond his control. Within Macbeth, there are several indications that may lead a person to think that he was insatiable and selfish. For instance, after the fierce victory over Sweno, Macbeth is presented with a new, more respectable title.
The standards for a tragic hero were set by Aristotle many years ago. In his book The Poetics, Aristotle argues that a tragic hero must be in the middle of being good and bad, and a tragic hero must cause his own downfall because of acting in blindness. Furthermore a tragic hero must be greater than the common man .Willy Loman has all the qualities that by Aristotle standards, would define him as a tragic hero, except for one. Willy Loman is not king or any kind of nobility, he is just an ordinary person. In Arthur Miller essay “Tragedy of the common man “he states “I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for a tragedy in its highest sense as kings were” (Miller 1).