Tragedy and the Tragic Hero. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, identified the main characteristics of tragedy. He explained that tragedy is a representation of serious actions that turn out disastrously for the main character or characters.
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Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, identified the main characteristics of tragedy. He explained that tragedy is a representation of serious actions that turn out disastrously for the main character or characters.
Aristotle wrote that all true tragedies arouse pity and fear in an audience.
Pity- the audience feels sorry for the tragic character and hates to see him suffer. The viewer has sympathy for the character. Fear- the viewer realizes that, if circumstances were different, they would also be caught up in a web of tragic events. The viewer empathizes with the character.
According to Aristotle a tragedy purges or cleanses an audience of fear and pity- a process that he called catharsisAristotle cited Oedipus Rex as a paradigm, or perfect example, of tragedy.
Aristotle taught that every tragedy involves a central character or characters called protagonist(s), with whom the audience identifies.
This tragic hero, or protagonist, generally has four main qualities: 1. Of high character, superior, noble, or good: only characters who have these qualities can arouse pity
2. Suffers a downfall: brought from happiness to misery, power and prestige to defeat
3. Tragic Flaw (hamartia): makes fatal errors in judgment that contributes to his downfall, often the flaw is a traditionally admirable quality carried to excess
example: pride (hubris), arrogance, lust for power, lack of insight, inability to see circumstances as they really are, or to understand one’s own nature properly
4. Tragic realization: perceives before his fall how he has contributed to his own destructionTragedy leaves the audience and the tragic hero (protagonist) with greater insight and understanding of life, although sadly he/she never gets to use this wisdom as it comes too late.