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Elements of a Classical Tragedy

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Elise Xocol

on 11 August 2016

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Transcript of Elements of a Classical Tragedy

a recurring element, image, or idea in a work of literature.
a struggle between forces or characters i.e. external (character vs. character, character vs. society, character vs. nature) and internal (character vs. self)
and a brief review of key literary terms!
Tragic Hero
Aristotle's Definition
Tragic Flaw & Other Traits
Motif & Conflict
A type of drama in which the characters experience reversals of fortune, usually for the worse. In tragedy, catastrophe and suffering await many of the characters (especially the hero) and usually as a result of a human failing, which the Greeks called by the archery term
, a missing of the mark.

In the case of Sophocles'
Oedipus the King
, human failing applies to the central character's temper, arrogance, and violence.

Examples of this drama include Shakespeare's
, and Arthur Miller's
Death of a Salesman
A privileged, exalted character of high repute or noble birth, who, by virtue of a tragic flaw and fate, suffers a fall from glory into suffering. This person is fated by the Gods or by some supernatural force to doom and destruction or at least to great suffering. The tragic hero struggles mightly against this fate and this conflict.

Initially, the tragic hero should be neither better or worse morally than normal people in order to allow the audience to identify with them. This introduces pity. If perfect, the audience would either be outraged with their fate or indifferent due to their ideological superiority. If evil, the audience would feel the hero's fate is deserved.
Aristotle once said that "A man doesn't become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall."

An Aristotelian tragic hero must possess specific characteristics, five of which are below:
Flaw or error of judgment (hamartia)
A reversal of fortune (peripeteia) brought about because of the hero's error in judgment
The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the hero's own actions (anagnorisis)
Excessive Pride (hubris)
The character's fate must be greater than deserved. Greek culture indicates that the hero must courageously accept their death with honor.
A tragic flaw is a weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero. (Example: Othello's jealousy and too trusting nature)

Other common traits:
The hero must...
suffer more than he/ she deserves
be noble in nature but imperfect so audience can identify with them
understand his doom as well as the fact that his fate was discovered by his own actions
be intelligent so he may learn from his/ her mistakes
faced with a very serious decision that he has to make

Other Terms
excessive pride or self-confidence
the inescapable agent of someone's or something's downfall; a long-standing rival; an archenemy
Themes & Motifs
free will

blindness vs. sight
supernatural powers
self-imposed punishment
Full transcript