Is Santiago of The Old Man and the Sea a hero?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Defining a character as a hero depends upon an individual reader's definition of what a hero is. One could apply Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero to Santiago (of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea). Another may define Santiago as a hero based upon how the community reacts to the skeleton of the marlin. Still others may not define Santiago as a hero at all.

If applying Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero, one may define Santiago as a hero based upon his hamartia (tragic flaw) of hubris (extreme pride). His pride forces him to travel farther than any of the other fishermen in his village. Although Santiago succeeds at landing a prize-worthy marlin (one which measures 18 feet), he fails at bringing the marlin back to the docks. Instead, he returns with a skeleton and badly damaged hands (the necessity of a fisherman). His pride has forced him to this point.

A hero tends to be based upon the characteristics a society desires. This idea is seen in the Anglo-Saxon's epic hero....

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 913 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team