Malcolm X the Tragic Hero

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Randi FrancisEnglish II
Final PaperDecember 11, 2001

Malcolm X and The Shakespearean Tragic heroes

Aristotle defines a tragic hero "as good but flawed, must be aristocratic, must be believable, and must behave consistently." -Aristotle. The Muslim leader Malcolm X can be compared to such tragic heroes such as Othello and Hamlet. Malcolm's life and his personality have similar traits from both of the famous Shakespearean heroes. In this paper we will look deeper into the life of Malcolm X and find the similarities between him and the tragic heroes, also we will prove that Malcolm X can also be referred to as one of the great tragic heroes.

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little. He grew up in the streets of Boston and New York where he was known as "Red". Malcolm became what most young black youths with no direction became "lost". He became a thief, a hustler, Drug dealer as well as user. He was going down a one way street the wrong way. Malcolm was unstoppable! "I was a true hustler - uneducated, unskilled at anything honorable, and I considered myself nervy and cunning enough to live by my wits, exploiting any prey that presented itself I would risk just about anything. Right now, in every big city ghetto, tens of thousands of yesterdays and today's school drop outs are keeping body and soul together by some form of hustling in the same way I did And they inevitably move into more and more, worse and worse, illegality and immorality. Full time hustlers never can relax to appraise what they are doing and where they are bound. As is the case in any jungle, the hustler's - every waking hour is lived with both the practical and the subconscious knowledge that if he ever relaxes, if he ever slows down, the other hungry, restless foxes, ferrets, wolves, and vultures out there with him won't hesitate to make him their prey. (Autobiography, pp. 109-110)

Until his reckless ways landed him in prison. For a while Malcolm was still "lost" he couldn't wait till he was released so he could start up again where he had been abruptly stopped.
At 21 Malcolm was sentenced to prison for 8 to 10 years. Malcolm had become angry with everybody cursing out all that came into his view he even cursed out God. Which ultimately gave him another name "Satan" which he was called by fellow prisoners and guards alike. In prison is where Malcolm met Bimbi a brother of Islam and also a convict. Bimbi introduced along with frequent correspondence with his brothers and sisters the history and the thinking of the Nation of Islam.

All of them urged Malcolm to write to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. Although he did write he felt embarrassed because he had poor grammar and could not articulate his thoughts efficiently. Malcolm had emerged himself in the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and began to try to "teach" others what he was still learning.

"I soon began writing to people I had known in the hustling world, such as Sammy the Pimp, John Hughes, the gambling house owner, the thief Jumpsteady, and several dope peddlers" (Autobio p.173).

After an incident where his brother was suspended from the Nation for immoral behavior Malcolm had begun to doubt the teachings of the Nation of Islam. To Malcolm they're had to be some misunderstanding because his brother introduced the nation to him. That night Malcolm had a vision of a man and that morning he had received a letter from Mr. Muhammad telling him if he didn't believe now he had never believed that statement alone renewed his faith in the Nation and he rejected his brother.

Malcolm was released on parole and he made his way to Detroit where he began working at a furniture store and became a member of the Temple. Malcolm became restless with the recruiting efforts of the Temple and upon his first meeting with Mr. Muhammad Malcolm voiced his opinions about recruiting and he agreed appointing him minister of the Temple of Detroit.

This is when Malcolm begins to...
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