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Discovering the Tragic Hero: Ancient and Modern - Essay Example

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"Discovering the Tragic Hero: Ancient and Modern" paper focuses on Oedipus and Hamlet's characters which contain necessary elements of the tragic hero’s character. Oedipus and Hamlet have a noble nature to them. Oedipus is himself a king, married to a queen and a competent, respected leader…
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Discovering the Tragic Hero: Ancient and Modern
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Download file to see previous pages Although Aristotle outlines three requisite character traits that the tragic hero should possess, he qualifies the definition of the tragic hero with a set of events that must also take place before the hero can be considered truly tragic. Once this process is understood, it is easy to see how the sudden downfall of a mighty man, such as Oedipus the King from the play by Sophocles for example, would be dramatic and shocking to a public dominated by strict social classes. Moving into the more modern period, though, a subtle shift in the approach to tragedy began to take shape. The popular playwright William Shakespeare explored these concepts within his work as is demonstrated in plays such as Hamlet. In this play, the main character is given greater control over his own fate and it is due to his decisions and actions that things play out the way they do. Had he taken a different approach to the elements that confronted him, Hamlet may have been able to avert disaster for himself and his house. Thus, a shift occurred in the definition of the tragic hero from the ancient world to that of Shakespeare’s day which can be discovered through a comparison of the title character in “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles and the character of Hamlet from William Shakespeare’s play of the same name which serves to retain the effects of the tragic while still placing a greater emphasis on man’s responsibility and control.

The tragic hero had been present in a number of plays and dramas of the ancient Greeks before Aristotle, but Aristotle codified, so to speak, the requirements for a character to be considered a tragic hero. This idea was generally applied to characters with potential for tremendous greatness, such as kings and princes or those who had some sort of noble claim. However, each of these characters is considered destined to fail as a result of some tragic flaw inherent in their nature, often associated in some way with their greatest strength and therefore an aspect of their character that the individual is inordinately proud to exercise (Aristotle, 1998). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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