Movies, dramas, or books represent the essence of society in their stories. The audience always tries to connect with a character in the story that is synonymous with them. They feel what the character feels throughout. In the world of stories, the tragic ones have a special place and they touch the heartstrings of the audience and sometimes make your heart wrench. People especially love such stories because of their ideal tragic heroes. Now you might be wondering what is ideal tragic hero and what makes a tragic hero heroic. Let’s know all about such tragic heroes in this article.
1. What are the Characteristics of a Tragedy?
It is a given that before understanding what is ideal tragic hero you should read the concept of a tragedy first. The characteristics of a tragedy are-
- A tragic hero: His flaws and weak choices cause his downfall. He initially possesses some great qualities like compassion, bravery, and decency but it’s his bad decisions that cause his downfall. The character of Oedipus in Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex is a great example of a tragic hero.
- A tragic flaw/Hamartia: It’s a character trait that triggers the hero’s defeat. This might be a mistake that the character makes or a limitation they possess. For example, Lex Luthor’s tragic flaw in Superman was about being envious.
- Catharsis: In tragic stories, the characters as well as the audience goes through a sort of catharsis. It is the process of release or purification of emotions. This process spiritually or emotionally washes out the character’s pain. For example, in the play, Othello, the character with the same name committed suicide in the end. In the end, he realized that Lago’s deception led him to kill his wife. The suicide doesn’t end his guilt but surely washes out his pain.
2. Who is the Tragic Hero and Why?
A tragic hero is a character or protagonist of a tragedy. Typically they have heroic traits that make the audience connect with them. These characters make mistakes and have flaws. These flaws lead to their untimely death or downfall. The wrong decisions the character makes make him a tragic hero. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo’s flaw was his reckless passion for love. This flaw directly leads to the tragedy of his and his beloved’s death. (See What is Your Unique Identity?)
3. What makes a Tragic Hero heroic?
Apart from understanding who is a tragic hero, let’s dig deeper to find out what makes a tragic hero heroic. Tragic heroes are heroic because they have conventional qualities like any other hero. They have integrity, bravery, and honesty, but meet a tragic end because of their flaws and bad decisions. The audience sympathizes with them and goes through a catharsis with these characters. Tragic heroes can also be charismatic and deeply flawed at the same time. In real life, nobody is perfect or has a perfect life, everybody goes through some sort of tragedy and people tend to resonate with this with the character which makes him heroic. (See What are unique characteristics?)
4. What is Ideal Tragic Hero?
An ideal hero should be a good man with a minor flaw or make some bad decisions that lead to his ultimate downfall. His downfall or death should generate pity and fear in the hearts of the audience. If you understand all these traits of a tragic hero then you will definitely know what is ideal tragic hero. (See Summary of Romeo and Juliet – Act 3 Scene 5)
5. Who is a Tragic Hero in Today’s World?
Our curiosity about what is ideal tragic hero is dissolved, however, what is the context of the same in today’s world? In today’s modern world the definition of a tragic hero has gone through various alterations. A tragic hero now can be of any gender or class. Regular people without typical heroic characteristics can also be tragic heroes. Even villains and semi-villains can fall into this category.
The Byronic hero and Anti-hero can also have traits of a tragic hero. But even after such changes, the essence of a tragic hero remains the same which is gaining the sympathy of the audience. Despite his best intentions or efforts, he must come to ruin because of a certain flaw he has or a bad decision he made. (See What are Man vs Society Disney Movies Conflict Examples?)
6. What are the 7 Traits of a Tragic Hero?
To get a structured idea of what is ideal tragic hero, take a look at the following 7 traits of a tragic hero:
- A middling character: The tragic hero isn’t fully good or bad.
- A tragic flaw: The hero has a severe flaw that leads to his downfall.
- Reversal of fortune: The character goes through a downfall.
- Free choice: There is an element of choice in the character.
- Moment of Recognition: The character realizes what went wrong.
- Punishment exceeds crime: The audience doesn’t think the character deserved such a punishment.
- Catharsis: The character should bring out the feeling of pity and sympathy in the audience.
7. Which Characteristic is the Best Example of a Tragic Hero?
A tragic hero has several characteristics that help you distinguish it from others. Such a hero is noble in nature but has imperfections or flaws. The audience sees a reflection of themselves in such a character. Such heroes get greater punishment than they deserved. They evoke pity and fear from the audience. Oedipus from Oedipus Rex by Aristotle is a great example of a tragic hero. His biggest flaw was his excessive pride which led to his downfall.
You can get a pretty clear view of what is ideal tragic hero from the story where Oedipus sets out to free the kingdom of a terrible plague. According to a prophecy, if he punishes the man who killed the previous king, he would get rid of the plague. But unknown to him, he was the one who had killed the previous king many years ago. When he comes to know of all this, he gouges his own eyes as a punishment and ends the plague. He had a pretty tragic ending. (See What are the body language signs of fear?)
8. What is the Strength of a Tragic Hero?
A tragic hero’s biggest strengths are his nobility, capability, and power. Another strength of such characters is that it evokes emotion from audiences and builds a strong connection with the audience. Also, check out what is ideal self and real self?
9. What are the Five Characteristics of a Tragic Hero as defined by Aristotle?
The five characteristics of a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle are-
- Hamartia: They have a fatal flaw or error of judgment.
- Peripeteia: The character goes through a reversal of fortune that happens because of the character’s own error of judgment.
- Anagnorisis: The character has the realization that the reversal of fortune was brought by his own actions.
- Hubris: It is the flaw that the character has. Mostly this flaw is excessive pride or arrogance.
- The character’s fate must be greater than deserved. His downfall should evoke pity and fear in the audience.
10. What is an Example of a Tragic Hero?
Now that you know what is ideal tragic hero and the five characteristics of a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle, it’s time for you to see an example of a tragic hero. The world of literature is full of many great examples of tragic heroes.
In Romeo and Juliet, the character of Romeo Montague is that of a tragic hero. He was a man of noble birth. His flaw was having a fair share of hubris and being impulsive. Just after meeting Juliet 24 hours earlier, he made the impulsive decision to marry her. This impulsiveness led to his and his beloved’s death. The audience feels great compassion and pity for the star-crossed lovers. This story has elements of a classic tragedy. (See Why do some people like Woody Allen?
11. Is Thanos a Tragic Hero?
Yes, the character of Thanos comes under the category of a tragic hero. The idea of sacrifice became a major reason for his downfall. He had major flaws like excessive pride and disrespect for natural order. All these things led to his downfall at the hands of the avengers. But he is different from other villains. He even had to sacrifice his daughter Gamora’s life for the soul stone. He genuinely loved her but he had to do this as he thought all this was necessary to maintain the balance in this universe. He was thinking of the long-term prosperity goals of the universe.
His character is like that of classic tragic heroes such as Jay Gatsby, Anakin Skywalker, and Oedipus. Must see Why Loki is so popular (MARVEL)?
12. Is Joker a Tragic Hero?
No, Joker wasn’t a tragic hero. A tragic hero can’t be too bad or too good. Joker though had a tragic past, his backstory portrayed what happens to someone who is pushed past the breaking point. People do sympathize with what happened with Joker but this doesn’t justify his murderous actions. (See Top 10 Miraculous Ladybug Characters Villains)