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A tragic hero is a potent and a virtuous character in a tragedy. He is a man of noble structure and not an ordinary man. He has outstanding quality and greatness about him. A tragic hero gets destined for downfall, suffering or defeat. That tragedy is brought up by the hero making an error of judgement or having a fatal flaw combined with fate and other external forces. The fortune changes from bright to awful, despite the hero being morally blameless. However, in most occasions, his downfall and destruction is for a greater cause, fame or principle.
Tragic hero has other traits among the ones named above. He is usually of a noble birth, having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity or honour. He is also associated with some stature or high position such as a king or nobleman. He must be a trustworthy person who matters to us, we see him as a worthwhile person. A tragic hero commits the tragic flaw that causes his downfall. He makes serious errors in judgement which led him to committing the deed which begins his downfall and misfortune. The hero’s flaw may be an error, mistake or blunder that causes his predicament. It is an imperfection that makes the tragic hero be viewed as a failure. Since he gets adored by many, a tragic hero must elicit both pity and fear from the audience (Perrine 21).
Due to a hero’s flaw, the punishment he gets is a reversal of his fortune from super to poor. However, his action of flaw and downfall results in an increase of self awareness and self knowledge. The suffering the hero goes through after his flaw is a conscious act and he must be willing to suffer. He fights in vain against another force and his suffering must result in a lesson learnt. Instead of the downfall being destruction to the hero’s character, it acts as a stepping stone to the hero’s achievements after he recognizes his mistakes. At times, it may be viewed as a waste of human potential when the hero’s misfortune results to his death. However, this is not a pure loss as it results to greater knowledge and awareness.
In contrast with the tragic hero, modern hero does not have to be of a high estate and may not be born noble, but rather an ordinary person. He is not born in a noble way. In most cases, the misfortunes of a modern hero may not result to his death. The occurrences to a modern hero may not result to in an epiphany of awareness or knowledge (Misra 63). However, a modern hero may have a flaw that result to a misfortune. An example is Martha Stewarts. She was not born in a noble way and did not grow up living in a noble way. She was taught ordinary jobs of cooking, sewing and gardening at an exceptionally young age. She would work part time to pay for her expenses, and she became famous when she began to work as a model. She had a retail store, wrote for the New York Times, branches in publishing, merchandizing and providing products in many different areas (Crutcher 97).
A trait that was common to a tragic hero is seen in Martha’s downfall that started from a slip of moral judgement. Her flaw and blunder was becoming greedy for more power and money that overrode her trusty judgement. Her fatal flaw was greed and dishonesty. She also committed a crime in misleading a federal investigator and obstructing an investigation that landed her in prison.
In our culture, we value our heroes from their achievement, success in business ventures and leadership positions. We do not value the underdog as a hero, but we value the strong and the favourite (David 46). Intelligence is also a valued trait in our modern hero. It is the abilities of self-awareness, planning and ability in problem solving. For a tragic hero, a flaw could cause a misfortune that would lead to the death. For a modern hero, the flaw would lead to a misfortune that would only result to awareness and not death of a hero. The case of Martha’ flaw just caused a power trip because of all of her achievements, but it did not cause death to her (Warner 52).
A modern villain can be compared to a tragic hero in that they both have flaw, mistakes and blunder. The characters tend to have a negative effect on other characters. They are malicious and get involved to crime and wickedness.
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