What is not typical of a tragic hero?

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msmeow-7867 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are referring to a particular tragic hero, please edit the question to reflect that. But if you are asking a general question about characteristics in opposition to a classical tragic hero, then, I can answer that.

In order to understand what is atypical for a tragic hero, we must first understand what is typical for one. The word ‘hero’ is from the Greek ‘heros,’ which translates ‘warrior, protector, defender,’ and the classical definition of a tragic hero is Aristotelian in origin. Aristotle’s tragic hero must have five characteristics: he must be of noble birth; he must have a character flaw, which usually presents as excessive pride; he must experience a reversal of fortune, almost always from good to bad; he must come to an understanding that his reversal of fortune is a result of his own choices or actions; and the consequences of his actions and his ultimate fate must be more than he deserves. The consequences of the hero’s actions should bring the audience to a point where they realize the hero is just a man who made a terrible mistake and, because his fate is always worse than he deserves, fear for and pity him.

Understanding these characteristics allows us to draw an opposing picture to see what characteristics are not typical of a tragic hero. First, it is atypical for a tragic hero to be of common birth. It is also atypical for a tragic hero to be humble, to not suffer from a serious character flaw that leads to his downfall. Having a tragic hero experience a reversal of fortune that moves from bad to good or good to better is atypical. If a tragic hero never comes to an understanding of his own culpability in the consequences that befall him and as a result does not suffer greatly, that is atypical. It would be very difficult for an audience to feel any fear or pity for such a tragic hero. In fact, he would not be a tragic hero at all.

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