Is Troy considered a tragic hero?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some say Troy is a classical tragic hero.  Some say he is a modern tragic hero.  I tend to think he is more the latter than the former.  Key questions: does Troy reach an epiphany before his death?  Is Troy an emblem of suffering for his people?

Here are the distinctions for you to decide:

Modern Tragic Hero

1.  Person of less worth consideration

2.  May not have the needed catharsis to bring story to a close

3.  May die without any epiphany of his destiny

4.  May suffer without the ability to change the events around him.

5.  A failure, crude, sometimes stupid or even dishonest

6.  Often angry

Classical Tragic Hero

1.  Of noble birth

2.  Suffers from a tragic flaw (hubris) or makes a tragic mistake

3.  Makes others around him suffer

4.  Has a realization (epiphany) about his life before his death

5.  The suffering of the hero is important to his culture; he is looked to as an emblem of of both greatness and suffering

6.  Often persecuted by the supernatural, or fate

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous post did an excellent job in articulating the fundamental difference between the classical tragic hero and the modern incarnation.  I think that I am struck by the tragic hero as being someone trapped between ends that evoke the greatest of agony and empathy on the part of the reader.  For example, Troy is raised with an abusive and terrible father.  Understanding this, Troy wishes to raise Cory differently.  However, he is unable to relate to his loved ones in any other way other than what he experienced with his own father.  In this instance, Troy is pitted in a tragic condition:  He wishes life to be different, but lacks the vocabulary or understanding to change it.  His desire to build fences to keep out the forces of mortality actually only succeeds in keeping out the pain of emotions and the pain and insecurity of living in the modern predicament.  In the final analysis, this condition of being one where less hate is evident, and a greater sense of empathy is present is probably where Troy becomes a tragic hero in my mind.

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