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Rathmore Gatsby Hero
Transcript of Rathmore Gatsby Hero
* Birth and class are unimportant: the individual transcends society
* The battle is internal: it is a psychological war won by the “courage to be me”.
* Moral codes are eccentric–heroes make their own rules
* Passions are outside of individual control
* Self knowledge is valued more than physical strength or endurance
(physical courage is de-valued)
* The hero is moody, isolated, and introspective
* Loyalty is to a particular project and to a community of like-minded other Anti-Hero Material from 'Four Conceptions of the Heroic'
by Vera Norman
http://www.library.spscc.ctc.edu/electronicreserve/swanson/AntiheroDefinitionWinter2004.pdf Hero: The principal sympathetic character (male or female) in a literary work. Heroes and heroines typically exhibit admirable traits: idealism, courage, and integrity.
Characteristics of hero: chief character on whom our interests centre in a text, shows heroism in the face of his circumstances, is a mixture of positive and negative qualities, evokes catharsis (and admiration);
Anti-hero: A central character in a work of literature who lacks traditional heroic qualities such as courage, physical prowess, and fortitude. Anti-heroes typically distrust conventional values and are unable to commit themselves to any ideals. They generally feel helpless in a world over which they have no control. Anti-heroes usually accept, and often celebrate, their positions as social outcasts.
Anti-Hero: protagonist in modern literature who is different from traditional heroes; often restless, rebellious, in disgrace, passive or cowardly, stripped of all values.
In literature and film, an anti-hero is a central or supporting character that has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains but nonetheless also have enough heroic qualities or intentions to gain the sympathy of readers. Anti-heroes can be awkward, obnoxious, passive, pitiful, or obtuse—but they are always, in some fundamental way, flawed or failed heroes.
http://www.library.spscc.ctc.edu/electronicreserve/swanson/AntiheroDefinitionWinter2004.pdf GATSBY Here are the main characteristics of the epic classical hero of Greek and Roman literature:
* He is of royal birth or even, like the Titan Prometheus, half mortal, half god.
* He must perform extraordinary feats.
* His is a noble character which is close to perfectly ideal but for a fatal flaw.
* The suffering of the character is physical.
* Death must occur in an unusual way.
* The hero fights for his own honor; his deeds belong to the community only after his death.
* A hero can be of common birth.
* Battle is an ongoing test of manhood and loyalty to the liege lord.
* A man has to be seen as having a good moral character including. chastity and obedience (doesn’t actually need to be of such a character, perception more important than actuality).
* Must demonstrate obedience to hierarchy.
* Must follow elaborate rules of chivalry, dress, courtesy, and codes of conduct.
* Wages war on behalf of liege lord’s principles–war is no longer a land grab or to avenge honour. What are the characteristics of the modern hero?
* He seeks merely to survive–to create a pool of light in a world of dark shadows.
* The war is against meaninglessness: the battle is to create meaning and value.
* The heroes have a code of behavior rather than a code of ethics - they portray men who are impassive, hard-boiled, never surprised by events.
* The world is seen as having no internal order: anything goes–the hero is as likely to be debauched and depraved as the enemy.
* The internal struggle is with addiction to drugs, liquor, sex, money.
* The external struggle is with corruption in government, the military, schools - formal organizations.
* There is no sense of community. The hero lives for a small, select circle which can be merely one woman or a few trusted friends. Hero/Heroine: The principal sympathetic character (male or female) in a literary work. Heroes and heroines typically exhibit admirable traits: idealism, courage, and integrity, for example. Famous heroes and heroines include Pip in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, the anonymous narrator in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and Sethe in Toni Morrison's Beloved. (Compare with Antagonist, anti-hero, and protagonist.)
Anti-hero: A central characterin a work of literature who lacks traditional heroic qualities such as courage, physical prowess, and fortitude. Anti-heros typically distrust conventional values and are unable to commit themselves to any ideals. They generally feel helpless in a world over which they have no control. Anti-heroes usually accept, and often celebrate, their positions as social outcasts. Another type of anti-hero is a character who constantly moves from one disappointment in their lives to the next, without end, with only occasional and fleeting successes. But they persist and even attain a form of heroic success by steadfastly never giving-up or changing their goals. These characters often keep a deep-seated optimism that one day, they will succeed. But in the end they still meet the ultimate fate of a traditional villain, failure.
The Antihero is someone with some of the qualities of a villain, up to and including brutality, cynicism, and ruthlessness, but with the soul or motivations of a more conventional Hero.
For example, the one true aim of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby was to gain the love of a woman beyond his social status, Daisy. Gatsby, through what Fitzgerald alludes to be illicit means, amasses a fortune in order to make himself acceptable to then married Daisy. He does, for a time, have an affair with her but in the end his character flaws and illusions that he could turn back time destroy him. But through the whole experience, even after Daisy's husband puts an end to her illicit affair, Gatsby still had hope that he would one day prevail.
Conception Tragedy and the Common Man by Arthur Miller
I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were...
As a general rule, to which there may be exceptions unknown to me, I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing--his sense of personal dignity. From Orestes to Hamlet, Medea to Macbeth, the underlying struggles that of the individual attempting to gain his "rightful" position in his society.
Sometimes he is one who has been displaced from it, sometimes one who seeks to attain it for the first time, but the fateful wound from which the inevitable events spiral is the wound of indignity, and its dominant force is indignation. Tragedy, then, is the consequence of a man's total compulsion to evaluate himself justly.
In the sense of having been initiated by the hero himself, the tale always reveals what has been called his tragic flaw," a failing that is not peculiar to grand or elevated characters. Nor is it necessarily a weakness. The flaw, or crack in the character, is really nothing--and need be nothing, but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity, his image of his rightful status. Only the passive, only those who accept their lot without active retaliation, are "flawless." Most of us are in that category. But there are among us today, as there always have been, those who act against the scheme of things that degrades them, and in the process of action everything we have accepted out of fear or insensitivity or ignorance is shaken before us and examined, and from this total onslaught by an individual against the seemingly stable cosmos surrounding us--from this total examination of the "unchangeable" environment--comes the terror and the fear that is classically associated with tragedy.
The quality in such plays that does shake us, however, derives from the underlying fear of being displaced, the disaster inherent in being torn away from our chosen image of what or who we are in this world. Among us today this fear is as strong, and perhaps stronger, than it ever was. In fact, it is the common man who knows this fear best.
The Greeks could probe the very heavenly origin of their ways and return to confirm the rightness of laws. And Job could face God in anger, demanding his right and end in submission. But for a moment everything is in suspension, nothing is accepted, and in this stretching and tearing apart of the cosmos, in the very action of so doing, the character gains "size," the tragic stature which is spuriously attached to the royal or the high born in our minds. The commonest of men may take on that stature to the extent of his willingness to throw all he has into the contest, the battle to secure his rightful place in his world.
There is a misconception of tragedy with which I have been struck in review after review, and in many conversations with writers and readers alike. It is the idea that tragedy is of necessity allied to pessimism. Even the dictionary says nothing more about the word than that it means a story with a sad or unhappy ending. This impression is so firmly fixed that I almost hesitate to claim that in truth tragedy implies more optimism in its author than does comedy, and that its final result ought to be the reinforcement of the onlooker's brightest opinions of the human animal.
For, if it is true to say that in essence the tragic hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity. The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy. Where pathos rules, where pathos is finally derived, a character has fought a battle he could not possibly have won. The pathetic is achieved when the protagonist is, by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity or the very air he gives off, incapable of grappling with a much superior force. Pathos truly is the mode for the pessimist. But tragedy requires a nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief--optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man. It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possible lead in our time--the heart and spirit of the average man.
* Arthur Miller, "Tragedy and the Common Man," from The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller (Viking Press, 1978) pp. 3-7. Copyright 1949, Copyright 0 renewed 1977 by Arthur Miller. Reprint(by permission of Viking Penguin, Inc. All rights reserved.
from Robert W. Corrigan. Tragedy: Vision and Form. 2nd ed. New York: Harper, 1981. Aristotle believed that art should be an "imitation" of life. It should hold a mirror up to life. It should be "truthful," or "true to life.".
He makes two points straight away:
•The finest tragedy is complex rather than simple
•Tragedy is a "representation of terrible and piteous events"
If a play is complex rather than simple, it will challenge its viewers in some way. Perhaps Aristotle felt that "simple" plays were a waste of time, or an insult to his intelligence. When he says that tragedy should represent terrible and piteous events, he has something specific in mind, which he explains elsewhere in the Poetics. Why is it not a waste of time to view a play? Because the play, though its arousal of pity and fear, leads its audience to and experience he called "catharsis," a healthy calling forth and then purging of emotion, that "good cry" that makes you stronger somehow.
Aristotle, next, indicates the kind of hero who should serve as the main character, but first, he tells us the kind of hero who does not qualify for service as a "main character," or "tragic hero." He tells us that, for tragedy, we can't have-
•A good man falling from happiness to misfortune (this will only inspire revulsion, not pity or fear)
•An evil man rising from ill fortune to prosperity (that won't inspire sympathy, so it can't arouse pity or fear)
•A wicked man falling from prosperity into misfortune (that might inspire sympathy, but not pity or fear, because (1) pity can't be felt for a person whose misfortune is deserved, and (2) if we don't identify with the character's wickedness, we won't be afraid of his fate falling on us).
The appropriate tragic hero, then, is the character who sits between these extremes. He's not "preeminent in virtue and justice," but on the other hand, he isn't guilty of "vice or depravity," just some "mistake." He is a person of some importance, from a "highly renowned and prosperous place," a king, like Oedipus.
The best tragic plot, he concludes, moves the hero from prosperity to misfortune, occasioned not by depravity, but by some great mistake he makes.
In an editorial aside, Aristotle puts in a good word for the poet/dramatist Euripides, who has apparently taken some heat from his critics for writing too many unhappy endings. But Aristotle insists that this is how it should be. He praises Euripides (his most famous play is Medea), calling him the "most tragic of the poets," and insists that tragedy is superior to comedy.
Aristotle spends some time elaborating what he considers the essential qualities of the tragic hero. He explains that "with regard to the characters there are four things to aim at":
•Goodness. They should reveal through speech and action what their moral choices are, and a "good character will be one whose choices are good." Any "class of person" may be portrayed as "good"-even women and slaves, though on the whole women are "inferior" and slaves are "utterly base."
•Appropriateness. Men can be domineering or "manly" (what does he really mean here, I wonder?), but for a woman to appear formidable would be inappropriate.
•Lifelike. He never explains this one. What do you think he means? How is "lifelike" slightly different from "appropriate" and "good"? I think he might mean "believable" or "true to life." Maybe he means the tragic hero should not be godlike, not like the mythical heroes of legend, but like real human beings.
•Consistency. Once a character is established as having certain traits, these shouldn't suddenly change.
In constructing the plot, characters should say and do only what seems probable and reasonable given the events of the play. The outcome of the action should arise naturally from the plot itself and not be contrived by any exterior devices like "from the machine" (Aristotle is referring a plot device known as "deus ex machina"-a big contraption that many dramatists of the time resorted to. It was a big platform that held the character of a god who would come and fix everything when humans had entangled themselves so badly they couldn't extract themselves without help). The god in the machine would deliver justice and put things right.
ONE FINAL NOTE…
Aristotle reminds us that tragedy is an imitation of persons who are "better than the average." Therefore, the tragic hero should appear, like he would in a portrait by the best portrait-painter, like himself, but handsomer. In developing his character, any little flaws should be rubbed away. A little airbrushing never hurt anyone's public appeal….
ARISOTLE AND OEDIPUS
What a coincidence that Oedipus happens to fit each and every description that Aristotle offers. Is it a coincidence? Not at all. In fact, this play served as Aristotle's model for what constitutes great tragedy. His theory is retrofitted to incorporate every aspect of Sophocles' play. The artist went there intuitively; the critic followed. Tragedy: Literary Terms and Definitions
Peripeteia (Reversal): a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity.
Anagnorisis (Recognition): a change from ignorance to knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons destined by the playwright for good or bad fortune. According to Aristotle, the best form of recognition coincides with a ‘Reversal of the Situation’, as in Oedipus.
* Recognition, combined with Reversal will produce either pity or fear (catharsis); and actions producing these effects are those which, by Aristotle’s definition, Tragedy represents.
Catharsis: a purging, purification; ‘relief to overcharged feeling’; evocation of pity or fear; Oedipus’ recognition and subsequent self-punishment; Willy’s loss of hope and subsequent suicide.
Tragic Hero: according to Aristotle, is ‘a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty’ (same view as Miller?); ‘He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous’ (not the same view as Miller!).
Aristotle’s shows goodness, appropriateness, is lifelike and is consistent; also the tragic hero is a person who is ‘better than the average’.
Hamartia (Tragic Flaw): ‘The flaw…is really nothing – but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity’ (Miller).
Unity of Action/ Unity of Plot: the action and the plot have a beginning, middle and end; if any one action is removed or displaced, the plot becomes disturbed. 'There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — no through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion' Ch.5 'But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself so he gave that up and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon' Ch.7 "Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men." "'Can't repeat the past?' he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can!'" Ch.6 "an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.” 'He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life'. 'The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end'. '"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"' Ch.6 'he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone' Chapter 1 society? Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps...he was not drinking...it seemed he grew more correct as the fraternal hilarity increased' Ch.3 'extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness' Ch. 1 coincidence?