Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tragic Hero?

The Tragic Hero
A tragic hero is a character who is doomed to fail due to a vital flaw. Aristotle, who can be considered the father of tragedy, defined tragedy as: "the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself." The hero is destined to succeed in his own way, but for some reason, like the time or situation, are fated to fail.
A few other characteristics of tragic heroes are that:
    *they are born into nobility;
    *they are responsible for their own fate
    *they fall from extremely high esteem
    * they realize they have made an irreversible mistake;
    * they face death honorably

Even though they may be a fallen hero, he still wins a moral victory, and his spirit will live on forever.  In short, a tragic hero is doomed to make a serious error in judgment which will ultimately result in his downfall.
Discussion:
  • Do tragic heroes really exist or are they humans who are driven by their own folly?
  • Does Aristotle's definition perpetuate class, gender, and social divisions in society?
Please respond to both questions.  Provide evidence to support your claim.  Do not forget to respond to two of your peers.
 
 

37 comments:

  1. An anonymous former contributorOctober 21, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    1. Tragic heroes undoubtedly exist, from Socrates to Hussein Ibn Ali, to John Brown, to Ahmed Shah Massoud, tragic heroes from the dawn of time have inspired devotion, hatred, vitriole and revisionism from contemporary and future responses to their actions. However in recent years, cruel historical "scholars" driven by a sense of tone deaf and vile so called "realism" in their historical accounts have inaccurately portrayed tragedy as nothing more than fatalist nonsense, with no bearing on human choice or willful sacrifice for the greater good in a callous attempt to appear more "scientific" and "objective". This is such drivel. Indeed, assertions that tragic heroes are just driven from their flaws are insulting to the intelligence, for in that case wouldn't all human behavior be characterized as such? Can Mankind do no good deed, contribute nothing of value to their own future or children's future without some mad scholar asserting that despite all personal endeavors and personal choices to suffer one's own suffering willingly, one's own cross willingly, that he or she was going to do this anyway? What a disincentive to heroism! Apologies Nazarene, but you were going to be crucified no matter what, it wasn't your own volition, it was your "folly" after all that made you endure all that pain. Sorry Robespierre for getting your tongue cut out, you had no say in the matter, it was your own darn fault. This is nonsense. As has been shown time and again, tragic heroes DO exist contrary to their critics and if anything we need more of them nowadays and far less questions as to their existence in the first place.

    2. Aristotle's arbitrary, obsolete, and slipshod definitions of a tragic hero are false and unnecessarily divisive in their standards. The hilariously specific and concise metrics set up for tragic personhood are also ingratiating if they weren't so unintentionally funny. For instance, for some reason one must be born from aristocracy to be heroic leaving out a good 99% of the human species. A definition of tragic personhood without the relics of Classicist social prejudice would be far more useful to the commons than Aristotle's hackneyed standard.

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  2. Esperanza ElizarrarazOctober 22, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    When it comes to tragic heroes, I do but than I do not believe that they exist. I do believe that they exist because I could see how a flaw in someone could become their downfall such as pride or stubborness, much like Antigone who's tragic flaw was her stubborness. But than I do not believe that they exist when it comes to meeting the guidelines. I do not believe that a tragic hero is always necessarily born into nobility. Nowadays in society, that is not too common, but instead takes on the persona of a person with a leadership role. Moreover, I don't think that they are always destined to fail. Yes, this flaw of their's might cause some issues for them, but if recognized in time a person can change their ways and save themselves.

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    1. Most tragic heroes end up dead, a few "tragic heroes":
      Romeo and Juliet - dead
      Antigone - dead
      Achilles - dead
      Hamlet - dead
      So you see these "some issues" are actually big issues which they all have to face.
      -Jesus Alcantar

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    2. Jesus, I appreciate your examples; however, the examples are not explained and in the play, Romeo and Juliet, I do not feel that they died "honorably" because they disobeyed and did what they were not suppose to do. When you like your kids to disobey what you tell them, that is not a good "moral victory".

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  3. -I do believe that Tragic Heroes exist. Overseeing John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln and their individual actions. Lincoln abolished slavery for the benefit of the U.S. Kennedy stopped a nuclear war from happening. Yet Lincoln and Kennedy were both assassinated. What I've been considering seems to be if wicked humans are tragic heroes like Hitler or Saddam Hussein. Both were dreadful men who had their own causes and beliefs. I believe that good and bad do not exist. As quoted "Right and wrong are not what separate us and our enemies. It's our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another. There's no good or bad side. Just two sides holding different views" (Squall Leonhart). I would have to say of course Hitler and Hussein are Tragic Heroes. If I was born under Hitler or Hussein's influence, that there is only one supreme race/Americans are disgusting vermin of course i'd consider them heroes. But since I was born in America I was taught that Hitler and Hussein are "horrible" people. What if things were the other way around? One would only have to picture the events by themselves.

    -I would have to agree that Aristotle's definition is some what perpetuate but not fully. Do to some 'heroes' that are not born into nobility.Looking at Anakin Skywalker from the famous Star Wars movie, he was born in a poor establishment and moved out of that establishment because of a Jedi deciding to train him. Later on he was viewed as a hero but his fear of his wife's death caused him to join the darkside. Yet he did not die under the titled of Anakin but yet Darth Vader is the title he died under. Thus I can decide that the definition of a tragic hero has become twisted by a small amount due to this society's evolution of literary.

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    1. Would you say that tragic hero's exist to an extent? Because it was not only their folly that made them fall but someone else's decisions as well. Per example JFK when he was assassinated he was doing well until someone else made a decision to change HIS fate?

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    2. Or maybe it was his fate to be assassinated in the first place. Just like it was the shooters fate to shoot him.
      -Jesus Alcantar

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    3. You say that John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln were tragic heroes because they were assassinated, but how would that correlate with Aristotle's definition that "they are responsible for their own fate?" What quality/trait did John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln obtain that was the flaw that would ultimately lead to them being assassinated?

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  4. I would agree with the idea that tragic heroes do exist, especially in modern society. However, I solely agree with the fall of the hero due to a flaw rather than fate or pre-destiny being at hand. Depending on what a person may believe, fate can be real or it can be a simple fabrication. I personally believe one can control their future, or 'destiny', which is why I find this requirement to be a tad presumptuous; nevertheless, one must take into perspective the time period which the said requirements were made. In modern society tragic heroes do exist, a prime example would be John F. Kennedy. JFK worked diligently to promote the Civil Rights Movement and was a beloved president. He was even looked upon as royalty by the American people. It was through JFK's compassion towards promoting equality within the U.S. that caused his assassination, however, whether he was fated to be murdered is another question entirely.


    Aristotle's definition does seem to perpetuate some class divisions within society. The most prominent division witnessed would be through class. This is due to a tragic hero needing to be "born into nobility". In this modern day and age, there are not many noble blooded people. Furthermore, such a requirement separates those of us whom are considered "regular," against those who are considered "noble". However, noble does not necessarily mean one must be born a prince or princess, rather, they are looked upon from a grander perspective in the eyes of common folk. Aristotle distinguished the model of a tragic hero to allow such "commoners" to idolize someone greater than themselves, much like celebrities in modern society, yet, rather than dividing through numerous social divisions, class appears to be the only prominent division left.

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    1. So, if you believe that the qualifications changed but tragic hero's still exist would that be true?
      The qualifications are there and if they do not fit the qualities of a tragic hero then they are not tragic hero's.

      I do agree with your idea that the times have changed and tragic hero's have changed as well. Since Aristotle definition is no longer what it should be today, today the tragic hero should be capable of being a common human being.

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    2. I do believe that if the qualifications changed, tragic heroes would most definitely exist in modern time. However, as you stated, if a character does not fit the qualities of a tragic hero, then they are not a tragic hero. With that said, I may have to change my opinion on the existence of tragic heroes.

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    3. Considering that you believe the trait instead of fate to lead to the tragic heroes' downfall, do you think that the trait could also possibly be fated or destined, thereby coinciding with Aristotle's definition?

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  5. Tragic heroes exist in literature to create the illusion of an almost perfect character with flaws, in which result in the aspect of humanization. The audience views the tragic hero as someone to admire for their noble deed and action but also recognizes the flaws in the individual. Nevertheless, tragic heroes may appear as modern heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.; however, they may have contribute to society with in positive manner but were not descend to fall. In addition, neither of them belong to royal/noble families in which would suggest to their qualities as a tragic hero. Although the flaws of both of these heroes may have contributed to their down fall, it through Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero that these modern heroes can not be categorized as a tragically.


    Aristotle has not created the tragic hero characteristics as perpetuate because he has set the qualification of the tragic hero. The qualifications are there to be follow; therefore, tragic heroes can only exist in literal. Aristotle has set the created the tragic heroes to belong to the noble family because they are constantly being viewed by underclasses. No one would pay attention to the lower class character who has good intentions and a flaw that later descends them to a down fall. Due to the fact that they are lower class already sets the greatest challenge, financial issues, it is a given.

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    1. I agree with your comment about the illusion of an "almost perfect character with flaws". In our society flaws are not as frowned upon as before. I feel that we idolize those who are greater to have a type of inspirations and hope of a new vision. Heroes are those type of inspirations, they are the good in society today.

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  6. Even though there is the flaw that comes with a tragic hero, I still agree that they exist. Tragic heroes are surely placed with a flaw but that is because the hero is wanted to be presented as human as possible. They do not want someone who is able to create a connection or bring people together and have the hero seem as if they are perfect. Tragic heroes are presented as high class but in reality they are seen in modern society without the “label” of royalty. They are divided by classes but that is not the truth behind it. In modern society we had a tragic hero such as Pat Tillman, an NFL player, that joined the army and went to Iraq to fight a war. He was there to protect his country when in fact he himself was killed by friendly fire. This shows that a tragic hero exists even in modern society and that they are not subject to being just royalty or of high class.

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    1. Gabby, I agree with you in the sense that tragic heroes do exist in real life, and I also like how you used an example from modern day society to support your claim.

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    2. I agree completely with your example of a tragic hero. He fits the examples, besides nobility; however, there is not nobility in modern society anymore, and his high class as an NFL player could substitute for that.

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  7. 1. Do tragic heroes really exist or are they humans who are driven by their own folly?
    According to the requirements a tragic hero are:"they are responsible for their own fate," If a person is responsible for their own fate then they drive their own folly.
    Definition of fate: development of events outside a person's control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.
    Thus by having control or responsibility of their own fate it is no longer "fate" because it has been taken control of. Therefore tragic hero's do NOT exist due to the fact that they control what happens in their life.

    Does Aristotle's definition perpetuate class, gender, and social divisions in society?
    AS we had discussed in class the definition of a tragic hero to Aristotle is something that is no longer as applicable than it was during historical times. Today a tragic hero is not so much looked upon as they were back then; no one else had a say or even recognition. Today a tragic hero can be someone who fell due to their actions. Although some die due to assassinations, it was not "fate" because someone at some moment had taken a decision for their action.

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    1. While I agree with your analysis towards fate and tragic heroes, I wonder:
      Do you think that if fate was not a factor contributing to the tragic hero archetype, would such characters exist?

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    2. I think if all the characteristics that determine a tragic hero were not a requirement then the archetype of a tragic hero would still exist. Being destined to fall or even born into nobility can be factors that are not fulfilled when determining a tragic hero. Yes, if fate were not a factor to being categorized as a tragic hero, such heroes can still exist. On the contrary, it would need to be carefully analyzed because overlooking all characteristics would now cause the tragic hero to be difficult to determine.

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  8. I do agree that tragic heroes exist, though the qualifications have altered in modern day. The idea that a tragic hero has to come from noble blood is no longer seen in this time. A tragic hero can arise as a well known person, yet they are not exactly considered part of noble descent. As Anthony had discussed in class, Martin L. King is an example of a tragic hero. His persistence was the quality that influenced him to keep fighting for civil rights which led to his fatal downfall. Though King had fallen, his death is viewed honorably due to his cause. A human’s character that results in their downfall can be defined as a tragic hero.

    Aristotle’s definition of tragic hero does pertain much to the class and social division in society. The idea that a tragic hero has to come from noble descent is based much on the time period in which Antigone took place. Someone part of royalty was most commonly used because it would bring the attention of the people due to their importance to society. However, in modern day royalty is seen as the leader that makes a change or attempts due to their character but results in a fall. The definition of the downfall has also been adjusted to not just simply death as their inevitable fate.

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    1. If the qualifications have altered for being a tragic hero wouldnt that mean they dont exist since they dont meet the requirements?

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  9. Tragic heroes do exist, but only to a certain extent. The existence of tragic heroes in literature is undeniably so, but the existence of a tragic hero in reality is far less obvious, and quite uncommon. The actuality of the tragic heroism of real life is restricted by one aspect of the characteristics of a tragic hero, that aspect is that of the tragic hero being “destined to fall”. All of the other characteristics of a tragic hero would be black and white, in a sense that they are definite and there is no debating their truth. The idea of being destined or fated to fall is one that falls into a grey area, in that it may be subjected to debate. The ideas of fate and destiny are ones that may cause controversy in the definition of a tragic hero. Tragic heroes may exist, but the existence is conditional, changing from person to person.
    Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero is perpetual when it comes to class, gender, and social divisions in society. The characteristics of a tragic hero were preserved by Aristotle in the idea that the actuality of a tragic hero would remain set in stone, the reason for this being that there is a rarity about the tragic hero and the requirements must all be met, in order to preserve the uniqueness of characters who may fall into the category of a tragic hero.

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  10. Tragic heroes do not exist in my beliefs. Believe that they only exist in literature bu not in real life. I believe this because there little times when someone who people look up to is destined to die. Yes we all have a destiny or that is what the Greeks believed, they believed that Zues was the one who controlled everything they did. Yet in some cases there are times when even the hero changed his own fate. So if that could happen then what is the point of fate? The hero is able to change his fate then why do the other heroes fall to their deaths knowing that they can change it?

    According to the definition stated above Aristotle did not mention anything about gender. Which is why Antigone was able to become a "tragic hero". He also does not mention that they must be in a certain class, but since people in ancient times mainly looked at how the upper class did, it helped determine that it was the upper class that knew best.
    -Jesus Alcantar

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    1. Great point. You completely captured my thoughts on tragic hero. The questions you asked interest me, we need to discuss them in class

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    2. Although, I do not understand the last part of your answer,I agree with you Jesus, tragic heroes are only fictional characters. It is not possible for a human being to be a tragic hero; if this was the case then everyone would be called tragic heroes. We all make poor choices and we are destined to die.

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    3. Fate is something bound to happen. Sometimes people do change their fates. Example: Perfect student who becomes a drug addicted. I think peoples fate change when introduced to new objects, to new peoples.

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  11. I do in fact think that Tragic Heroes exist both in literature and in real life. The only reason that they are more able to be perceived in literature is because the "fate" or "destiny" or the hero is defined by the religion or heritage of the context. In knowing that knowledge it is easy to identify the different aspects that Aristotle offer. That brings us to real life, where religions, beliefs, and heritage have intermixed. Being apart of the American culture, we are used to accepting different perceptions on aspects like religion and beliefs, so the idea of destiny and fate have become as intermixed as our culture has. It is no longer set in stone like Antigone where all of the characters in the novel served the same gods who were trying to achieve the same purpose. The reason it is so hard to place a tragic hero now is because our idea of destiny has to take into account the variety of beliefs behind the action or the tragic hero.

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    1. Interesting, but you had lost me when you mentioned "In knowing that knowledge is it easy to identify the different aspects that Aristotle offer."
      May I ask, what are these offer? How does "knowledge" is easy to identify with these aspects?

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    2. I agree with your view on tragic heroes. The idea that a tragic hero must follow a strict guideline is not quite possible in modern world due to different beliefs of how destiny is defined.

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  12. The existence of tragic heroes can be interpreted both ways. In my opinion, tragic heroes exist only within literature and not in modern society. However, tragic heroes in modern times reflect the characteristics of those in ancient times: they are born into nobility, their destined downfall and flaw within the tragedy and so forth. Modern tragic heroes are presented differently. For example, heroes are seen as merely perfect people who are well liked and admire for their good deeds. Their actions are carefully watched and judged similarly to those referred to as tragic heroes. There is no sense in categorizing such “heroes” if their destiny is to fall in the end. How can tragic heroes be seen as heroes if their apparent action will lead to a downfall and affect a number of people around them? Heroes are seen to uphold ordinance within society. Humans cannot be responsible for their own fate, however tragic heroes can.

    Aristotle’s definition in a way can perpetuate class and social divisions. A tragic hero is ‘born into nobility’ and if not born within a specific class can ultimately eliminate one from being classified as a tragic hero. As a result, relying solely on the definition of a tragic hero will affect the way one views tragic heroes and Aristotle’s view on them as well. If not born within the social norm then heroes could no longer establish magnitude in their actions. Furthermore, ones actions play a significant role on their fate.

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  13. I do not believe tragic heros exist in today's society. Everyone is too caught up in there own problems to pay attention to a so-called Tragic hero.
    Aristole's definition of a Tragic hero is not applicable in today's society. We have no noblity which is a requirement in being a tragic hero that alone shows that they dont exist in our society

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    1. I agree that nobility is not seen anymore, however there are other requirements and purposes for the tragic hero which do not simply rely on the fact that they come from royalty.

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  14. I agree with you Maylyne, the tragic hero does is exist both inside of literature and outside of it, but it is only more difficult to identify the real life tragic heroes because society's idea of fate is twisted by the various sources.

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  15. 1. I believe that tragic heroes only exist in fictional work because they are developed to expose the mistakes of real human beings. Humans are destined to fall either because the decisions made by each person or destiny that just happens. However, many authors such as Aristotle use the mistakes of real people to develop these certain characters in books. For example, Antigone represents someone that would violate the law and turn against what society follows. Antigone's pride and determination led her to her death which makes her a tragic hero.


    2. I do not necessarily believe in Aristotle’s definition that a tragic hero has certain qualities to follow. Aristotle’s view on tragic heroes relates more to that certain time period. In modern days, tragic heroes can be any character that relates to the characteristics of a protagonist.

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  16. I feel tragic heroes do exist, however the guidlines are loosely drawn for a reason. For example the criteria of being "fated" to fall is too vague, it raises the questions "fated by who?" and "Isn't everyone fated to fall?". Antigone was fated to fall the minute she had made up her mind to defy Creon. She was aware of the consequences and so was the reader. However there was no oracle or high priest that predicted this. Does that mean it was not destined to happen? I do not beliieve so, like the constitution i feel that the criteria for being a tragic hero are vaguely written and open for interpretation. With an open interpretation of the criteria many heroes in literature can in fact be considered tragic.

    Aristotle's definition clearly limits the amount of people eligible to be a tragic hero in ways that i feel are pretty idiotic. I cannot find a decent reason why a tragic hero needs to come from nobility. Last time I checked a hero was measured based of his actions performed and the legacy he may leave behind not the social class he comes from. If a tragic hero needs to come from nobility does that mean the death of a war hero who was raised by a common farmer is less tragic then the death of a war hero whose father was a nobleman?

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  17. 1. Although tragic heroes have transformed through the centuries, they do still exist. People who say tragic heroes do not exist in modern tragedy are not taking into consideration the difference between modern society and society in recent times. The tragic dramas written by Aristotle are obviously going to differ from tragedies of today. What would you do if our voice has not changed and we talked like this, "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight. For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night" William Shakesphere. We have transformed into a new type of tragic hero, where the hero proves his heroism by doing something morally correct, and is acknowledged by a mass audience, such as the media.

    2. Aristotle's perception definitely does perpetuate class. He say's they have to come from nobility; however, now-a-days a middle class man can do something spectacular that is acknowledged and become a tragic hero. For example, a man sees another man beating a women, his morals take over, and he tells the man to stop, he gets shot for sticking up for the women. Is he a tragic hero? Of course, he died honorably and left a moral for the rest of society to ponder on.

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