Some may say that it is easier to make a person cry than laugh. And they are right in some way. But creating a character both tragic and comic is an uneasy task. In this article our experts have gathered some of the most interesting tips and facts about tragic hero character. The best way to get the fullest picture of what you should do and how your character should behave.
Tragic Hero Definition
So, what is a tragic hero? We got you a definition that sounds simple and makes sense:
Usually, tragic heroes are protagonists and are used for tragedies. Those characters often have a tough fate and make mistakes along the story. They are up and down through their life and usually are sympathized by the audience.
One of the most famous tragic heroes is Rome from Shakespeare's legendary and classic Romeo and Juliet with a perfect thesis. His love is one great passion that leads to death. It is the most tragic end possible for any character.
Here are some interesting facts about tragic hero character:
- The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle was the first who described and defined such a character.
- The word “hero” not always means a hero as we think about it. Usually they are no heroes at all. They are characters and sometimes even antagonists instead of a usual protagonist type.
A Little Bit of History
Tragedy is the main feature that defines this type of character. A simple research can be done here. But as any other genre and type tragic hero got through some evolutionary changes over time.
Ancient Tragic Hero
So, as we mentioned before, the philosopher Aristotle was the first who defined the term of a tragic hero. There were few main types of feelings he believed a good tragedy should evoke from the audience:
Aristotle believed that these exact feelings are the fundamental ones for a proper catharsis experience. Here is another tragic list from Aristotle:
- In ancient art tragic character should be a noble. At the same time heroic feature also should be present. So, it means we should expect some certain role model and powerful message from the character. But the audience still should feel sympathy.
- The flow of this type of a person and his life should get a tragic feel. This is also known as hamartia. Some certain life event should cause a downfall of the character.
- All these life problems should make you feel related to the tragic hero. Some of his or her troubles and flaws are well-known to you.
- We when we are talking about a tragic hero as the ancients knew it we must also use fortune as one of the main points that influences all the characters.
Modern Tragic Hero
Modern times simplified the whole appearance a little bit.
- Now it doesn’t matter if the character is a noble origin or not. Gender and class type doesn’t matter at all. Men or women from different society grounds can equally be tragic heroes.
- These days you don’t have to create a real hero. It can be just any person with an interesting story. Those characters could not be defined as heroes. But it just means such a person does not have any heroic features. Perhaps, they even can be a villain. You can cite some of their words.
At the same time, few of those key features defined by Aristotle are still important in modern art. Your tragic hero should always have sympathy of the audience. Also, tragic events, mistakes, and luck of fortune are very important to build the character and name it tragic.
Tragic Hero Examples
There are lots of great examples of typical and classical tragic heroes. Here are just few of them for you to note.
- Macbeth: It is a famous tragic piece by Shakespeare. It tells the story of a man who kills his king because of the prophecy with support from his wife. Then along the story his killings become bloodier until Macbeth himself becomes a real villain. He realizes that all his close friends and even his wife are dead and his life was wasted.
- Michael Corleone: One of the most interesting characters in a cult Godfather trilogy. In all three series Michael wants to escape his fate of being a gangster until in the very end his daughter were killed by his enemies. And this tragedy took place after the last step to legal life was done by the Corleone himself. Even he is a real antihero, the audience sympathizes him as it is clear that it was not his choice to become a mafioso and he was trying to save his family.
- Anakin Skywalker: During all three legendary parts of Star Wars we can see as Anakin Skywalker is shaping a real tragic hero. A real misunderstood and lost character who becomes the main villain for the entire serie. He starts as one of the most pure and positive heroes with great power. But to get more control over the situation he gets into the trap of the Dark Side becoming the one and only Darth Vader. In some way he is just a victim of tragic circumstances.
Function of a Tragic Hero
The one thing is absolutely clear: there is no tragedy without tragic heroes. The point of tragedy are brought by such tragic characters in first place. Their downfall and life challenges awakes our sympathy and other important feelings. Sometimes they give us a lesson by causing fear. Sometimes tragic heroes are much more complexed and deeper then all other ones in a novel or movie.
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