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Characteristics of a Tragic Hero – Shakespeare

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1.Exceptional beings – a person of great public and social importance

2.Above the average level of humanity

3.Character traits are similar to the audience – ordinary humanity

4.His actions and sufferings are of an unusual kind

5.Their circumstances raise them to levels far above anyone we have ever known

6.They will experience an epiphany – a major realization about life and humanity

7.Their death is due to their fatal tendency

The Tragic Flaw
1.An ordinary trait that we can relate to, but it is magnified in the tragic hero. For example: pride, procrastination, greed, ambition, anger etc.

2.A fatal trait in the tragic hero that is directly connected to their death

3.The tragic hero shows a tendency to follow one particular character trait and become blinded by it

The Tragic Impression
The central feeling is waste; a profound sense of sadness and mystery

The Moral Order
Moral order is the ultimate power in any tragic plot

The moral order shows tends to favour good over evil

Therefore, as the plot in a tragedy progresses, and evil overruns the plot & characters, the universe must bring the balance back where morality & order must reign

Essentially, everything and everyone that is creating a moral imbalance (evil, evil acts) must be eradicated (die) and allow good to prevail

This why the tragic hero must die

The Role of Fate
Fate always plays a role in the destiny of Shakespearean tragic heroes

We are reminded that sometimes a greater power will influence life – regardless of how much control we think we have

The audience experiences great pity for the tragic hero

It is a world in which characters aim for perfection and in this pursuit they give birth to glorious good and immense evil

This evil can be overcome only through self-torture and a sense of waste

Bradley, A.C. “The Shakespearean Tragic Hero.” in Viewpoints 12. Robert Dawe et al. (authors). Toronto: Prentice Hall, 2002, 687-691.

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