The Old Man and the Sea Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

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

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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....

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