How are comic heroes different from tragic heroes?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The differences between comic heroes and tragic heroes is not as simple as it seems. The main difference between the two relies upon the character's path through the text.

In a comedy, the hero's path is one which shows the rise of the, typically, sympathetic character. In a tragedy, the hero's path is one where his/her failure is inevitable.

The comic hero is low in stature. Typically misunderstood to be a character who one finds "funny," the comic hero is not a comedian. While there may be elements of humor found in the life of the comic hero, comedy is not what makes the hero a comic one. Instead, the comic hero is one who is, according to Aristotle, average to below average." (This opposes the typical tragic hero based upon the fact that the tragic hero is one of notable and great stature.)

The typical comic hero is one whom is stereotypical of the underdog or underprivileged. The nobleness of the character comes from within, not from birthright (like the tragic hero).

The outcome for each of the heroes is the most noteworthy when defining the differences between the two. A comic hero is able to overcome all obstacles placed in their way. The tragic hero's life, regardless of action, will end in death. The tragedy is a tragedy-- it is filled with death, bad choices, and blood.