Explore the Characters in Mayor of Casterbridge and Frankenstein and Show How They Conform in Becoming a Tragic Hero in the Novels.

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  • Topic: Tragic hero, Novel, Character
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  • Published : February 19, 2013
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Explore the characters in Mayor of Casterbridge and Frankenstein and show how they conform in becoming a tragic hero in the novels. I am going to use Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero in order to ascertain whether the main characters in Mayor of character of Michael Henchard as a tragic hero as he adopts fatal flaws which result in an eventual downfall. He then recognises his faults and inspires pity from the reader. This novel was first Casterbridge and Frankenstein can be viewed as tragic heroes. Hardy presents the published on the 2nd January 1886. To date, his fictional writing had received mixed reviews but this particular novel was well received by his contemporaries and critics alike and given high marks. In Hardy’s autobiography it states, “Others thought better of it than he did himself.” Mary Shelley’s fictional novel, Frankenstein was first published in 1818. In this novel I have focused Victor Frankenstein, the main character, and have studied him thoroughly throughout the events in the novel. There is an ongoing and controversial debate as to who actually is the tragic hero of the novel as both Victor Frankenstein and the monster both qualify. In this essay, I will discuss this view and indicate who I believe to be the tragic hero. The first element I will look at is Harmartia which is Greek, meaning fatal or tragic flaw of judgement. In the novel, Henchard makes many fatal flaws which, in turn, causes the occurrence of other tragic events. I will concentrate on his first flaw which we come across right at the beginning of the novel. Henchard actually sells his own wife and infant daughter at a furmity tent while he is in a totally drunken state despite being disapproved of alcohol consumption by his wife. His flaws in being disobedient and inconsiderate are completely evident when he shouts, “Will anybody buy her?” This not only humiliates Susan, his wife, but also shows us a very bitter side to his character which is most definitely flawed. According to Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, “Contemporary critics who could not believe, apparently, that such transactions had ever occurred on English soil in the nineteenth century.” Hardy surprises the audience as well as the critics with the use of this plot device and gives the audience something to look forward to later in the novel. The flaw of consuming alcohol itself is a tragic flaw as it leads him to insult and blame his wife during her presence and makes drastic decisions. Hardy also describes Henchard as a “women-hater” which shows us that he has little respect for the opposite sex and thinks that they limit his opportunities of being successful. This is also corresponds to what happened at the furmity tent with his wife and shows his attitude clearly towards women. From this we can see that extreme hatred is definitely one of his flaws.
In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein is considered to be a tragic hero as he fits in the mould of Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero. Frankenstein’s tragic flaw is that he is overpowered by his ambitions and aspirations which drives him to create the monster. This is highly evident when he says, “when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy.” This shows how he is driven by success and ambition and shows that his creation means everything to him. Critique, Anne K Mellor states “Frankenstein has clearly substituted his scientific research for normal emotional interactions” in her thesis (Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fictions, Her Monsters (1988). This not only supports the fact that Frankenstein has flaws but also introduces the fresh idea of ignorance in Frankenstein which could be a potential and hidden tragic flaw. He also attempts to play god and mess with the beauty of nature which results in something extremely ugly. This is explored through after...
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