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Evolution of the Tragic Hero

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Jamie Roney

on 11 June 2014

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Transcript of Evolution of the Tragic Hero

Arthur Miller's Tragic Hero
Believed that the common man is as susceptible to tragedy as one of noble birth
Rejected the idea that a tragic hero must a king or one of high societal stature
It makes the character more relate able when the protagonist is a common man
Believed that the common man is just as capable of experiencing great tragedy even though they don't have as much as the nobility to lose
Argues that people of noble stature and commoners have similar emotions, therefore letting them experience the same tragic elements
Also states that the tragic elements come in to play when the protagonist risks all he has to preserve his dignity
Hero has a fatal flaw, often justified pride
Hero falls, and often dies, to teach the audience a lesson and evoke emotion (catharsis)
The audience must benefit from the moral
Featuring Oedipus Rex, Macbeth, Walter White, and Dexter Morgan
The Evolution of the Tragic Hero

Oedipus Rex: Tragic Hero
Dexter Morgan Background
Blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department- helps catch murderers by scientifically examining blood spatter patterns at crime scenes
Serial killer- delivers justice to those that fit his "code," typically other murderers that have escaped the justice system
Dexter witnessed his mother get murdered when he was two years old, leaving him with traumatized and with a desire to kill
He was adopted by a police officer, Harry Morgan, who recognized Dexter's need to kill and mentored him, giving him the skills to survive in normal society
The television series follows Dexter's daily life as he struggles to fit into society in the roles above, while also satisfying his desire to kill and evade the law
Macbeth: Tragic Hero
Aristotle's Tragic Hero
Aristotle described the tragic hero as "trying to do the right thing in a situation where the right thing cannot be done"
Walter White: Background
Father, Husband, Brother-In-Law
High school chemistry teacher
Married and has a son who copes with Cerebral Palsy
Diagnosed with lung cancer and is told he only has six months to live
Discovers that his wife is pregnant with another baby
Walt finds himself in a great amount of debt with the cancer treatments on top of the cost of his family
Life seems to be coming to an abrupt
He appears
great man
: must stand in great "repute or prosperity"
(hamartia): also translated as flaw or error, the hero falls as a result of a character flaw or moral blindness
The Hero
The Plot
reversal of fortune
(peripetia): a situation appears t be one way, but takes a sudden turn
(anagnorisis): a change from ignorance to awareness
(pathos): "a destructive or painful act
Aristotle described the tragic hero in
The Poetics
reversal of fortune
(peripetia): Oedipus undergoes the peripetia when he hears of Polybus' death and is excited, only to find out that Polybus is not his biological father
(anagnorisis): Oedipus killed his father, Laius, unknowingly, and then realizes his true relationship to Laius
: Oedipus ultimately suffers alone, blind in the desert, making this a
tragedy of isolation
The Hero
great man
: Oedipus is a "conspicuous man" from a reputable family and is socially, morally, and intellectually outstanding
(hamartia): Oedipus exhibits excessive pride (hubris,) is blind to his fate, and believes that he can defy the gods
The Plot
"Tragedy and the Common Man"
Background on Oedipus Rex
Walter White: Tragic Hero
Walt discovers that he can make an extreme amount of money off of dealing Methanphetamines
Partners up with former student Jesse Pinkman who has a history in drug dealing
Because Walt is an over certified chemist he makes one of the purest forms of crystal meth
Creates an alias for himself in order to

himself and his family
Joins forces with prominent drug distributor and cooks for them and makes millions
In order to keep his family
he creates a money laundering business to keep his money safe and to avoid government suspicions
Walt attempts to keep his family as
as possible but he is not successful
to everyone around him
Background Info
Protagonist of
Oedipus Rex
Oedipus the King
Saved the City of Thebes for a plague by solving the Riddle of the Sphinx
Became King of Thebes as a result of solving the riddle
Name literally means swollen foot
Biological parents- King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes
Adoptive parents- King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth
A prophecy predicts that the son of Laius and Jocasta will kill Laius and marry Jocasta
A different prophecy predicts that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother
Both prophecies ultimately are fulfilled
Oedipus blinds himself and is exiles himself to wander alone in the desert
Dexter Morgan: Tragic Hero
The Hero
common man
: Dexter is externally average, he is a simple father that works in the Police Department
(hamartia): Dexter has an endless desire to kill, known as his dark passenger that drives him to the point where it possesses his life, causing his downfall and hurting those close to him
: the audience trusts Dexter and his judgement because he is relatable
: Dexter realizes his fate and only option when his sister, Debra, dies
: the tragic ending leaves audiences sympathizing with the hero
a moral: the audience learns that one person cannot have everything, and are left feeling satisfied and restored
Dexter Morgan: Tragedy of Isolation
Similar to Oedipus, Dexter is a tragedy of isolation

He fakes his own death and assumes a new alias
He abandons his former life, girlfriend, and son to protect them from himself
It is unclear to the audience whether Dexter will continue to kill in his new life or not

The Hero
noble birth
: born into wealth, brave military leader, and courageous. All elements of a perfect tragic hero.
tragic flaw
(hamartia): easily susceptible to manipulation by his bloodthirsty wife and willing to commit any act to maintain or elevate his power
: becomes overconfident and believes that he is untouchable and omnipotent
Macbeth Background
Successful and famous general
Takes place in Scotland
Three witches predict that he shall become Thane of Cawdor and eventually King of Scotland
His wife, Lady Macbeth, is power hungry and manipulative
Becomes the Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland for a brief time by murdering those who get in his way
His wife control his actions which leads him to slaughter many innocent people
Eventually killed due to his ignorance and over excessive confidence

reversal of fortune
(perepeteia): occurs at the conclusion of the story when it is clear that Macbeth has misinterpreted the riddle of the Three Witches
(anagnorisis): Macbeth realizes that he misinterpreted the riddle and his downfall is inevitable
scene of suffering
: Macduff in encroaching on Macbeth's castle and Macbeth is eventually killed by Macduff
The Plot
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