Aristotle and the Tragic Hero

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Aristotle and the Tragic Hero
The traditional hero stresses courage and nobility as essential traits of heroism. He lived by a code of honor and valued certain things as more important than others, so that he is willing to take risks and endure hardships for their sake. He is often a leader and protector of a community. The fact that the hero not only performs great deeds but performs them out of worthy principles renders his deed even more admirable. On the other hand, the Greek tragic hero is best defined by Aristotle with his theory of tragedy in Poetics. He claims, “Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions. . . . Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality—namely, Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Melody” (Golden,Chapter 6). The traditional hero, in essence, is a character that is cherished and applauded while the tragic hero serves as a model of a hero who undergoes some revelation but experiences a change in fortune which ultimately lead to his/her downfall. Aristotle’s view on tragedy is a direct reflection of society’s view of the hero. Why was it important to have tragic heroes? Through Aristolte’s insightful knowledge and understanding of this character we can learn a lot about the Greek society and their relationship with heroes. Aristotle was such a highly respected man that his awareness of the tragic hero was a common guide used by the majority of the Greek society. Therefore, his interpretations soon began to influence the people of his time and his definitions are still prominent to this day. Who is the tragic hero? Aristotle distinguished common characteristics found in the tragic...
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