Homework Help

What characteristic does a tragic hero always have?

user profile pic

jdmkyle11 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 25, 2008 at 7:47 AM via web

dislike 3 like

What characteristic does a tragic hero always have?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 25, 2008 at 8:11 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

"A man cannot become a hero until he sees the root of his downfall." ~ Aristotle

The characteristics of a tragic hero include the following:
1. The character should be born into some form of nobility or wisdom (remember that in ancient times, nobility was the royal family; modernly, nobility could be social.)
2. The character has a personality trait that leads to his/her downfall
3. The character is doomed to make an error in judgement.
4. The character should be neither good nor bad, but the audience should be able to identify with the character.
5. The character is responsible for his/her own fate.
6. The character will fall from great heights or esteem when s/he realizes s/he has made an irreversible mistake.
7. The character will face a tragic death with honor.

Remember that a tragic hero doesn't have to meet ALL of these characteristics, but should meet most of them.

user profile pic

mclouse | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 26, 2008 at 7:25 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 1 like

I would add hubris to the list.  It is possible hubris would fit under "the character has a personality trait that leads to his/her downfall."  Hubris is excessive pride.  Two examples include:

Oedipus - ignoring warnings not to travel by the oracle, oversteps his boundaries as a human

Daedalus - created wings for himself and his son, as they were flying, bystanders thought them to be gods because only gods have the ability to fly

user profile pic

arrellbelle | TA , College Sophomore | Valedictorian

Posted June 30, 2014 at 11:23 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

A tragic hero must contain several qualities and characteristics:

  1. Must be of higher status or of noble stature.
  2. Must be relate-able, in a way, that the audience/readers may empathize with him.
  3. Must be at fault for whatever bad happens or be responsible for their wrongdoings.
  4. The punishment of their crime or misfortune is too great and the 'tragic' hero does not deserve such a punishment.
  5. Although in the end, there was much turmoil with the tragic hero, there was some gain in the end, possibly within the character themselves.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes