What was Bill Clinton's Shakespearean tragic flaw?All Shakespeare's heroes are deemed to have a "tragic flaw" which makes their downfall inevitable. Imagine the following people were a tragic hero...

What was Bill Clinton's Shakespearean tragic flaw?

All Shakespeare's heroes are deemed to have a "tragic flaw" which makes their downfall inevitable. Imagine the following people were a tragic hero in a Shakespearean play, what would their flaw be?

1) George W Bush

2) Tupac Shakur

3) Bill Clinton

4) Paris Hilton

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George W. Bush trusted the wrong people that would be his tragic flaw.  As an honest man who believed in the good in humanity, President Bush believed that members of his Cabinet and those in Congress would have the best interest of the people in mind with regard to their decisions and suggestions.

Case in point, Hank Paulsen, Treasury Secretary, gave the President a sense of urgent need to pass a bail-out bill for the banks in the fall of 2008.  His message was acted upon and it is almost as if Paulsen, who did not negotiate this bail-out effectively or with any assurances to the taxpayers,  was acting to undermine him rather than fix the problem, it rings very Shakespearean with intrigue, mystery and a sense of conspiracy.   Alas it is too late.

Politics is a dirty business, I often wonder why anyone with character and honesty would dare step into this arena.  It is no wonder that at the end of his 8 year term, President Bush was so fatigued by the job.   

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Clinton's tragic flaw was one that damaged him more as a leader than it would as a person. That's part of what made it a tragic flaw, by the way: it is specific to his context. It was the need to be liked rather than to do the right thing. This led him to his sexual escapades, but also to his wiggling in his public speeches, denying he'd had sex with Lewinsky. It led to proposing greater social inclusion for excluded groups…and to collapsing on those policies when challenged.


It's not that big a deal for a young person to want to be liked, especially if nothing is at stake. However, for a leader who has to make tough decisions, it is very wrong indeed.

timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think Clinton or Bush had a tragic flaw.  Although Republicans think unkindly of Clinton and Democrats return the favor to Bush, neither of them was destroyed by their failings.  Yes, they both had failings.  Clinton had trouble with self control and with telling the truth; Bush had problems recognizing when policies weren't having the desired result and he failed to change course.  But both of them are alive and well, and neither of them has experienced a downfall, so I would exclude them from the tragic flaw discussion.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tragic flaw is generally one which takes a person from a high place to a low place.  For the Presidents on your list, there's no indication of a fall (except, perhaps, in the eyes of the opposing party).  I'd argue that the other two were never in a high enough place to have a tragic flaw.  Paris and Tupac have both suffered from reality that they don't really matter in the bigger picture of the world, in my opinion, which is another kind of tragedy.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bill Clinton's tragic flaw was definitely Monica Lewinsky! No, seriously, as other editors point out I think the fall of Clinton says more about politics today and the hunger for scalps and the pressure placed on political leaders than it does on him as an individual. A very different world in lots of ways from the plays of Shakespeare.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A tragic flaw leads someone to tragedy.  I don't think Bill Clinton or the others really had tragic endings.  Bill Clinton did not die in office, and did not die as a result of a fall or even have a fall at all.  He is still successful.  I don't think that 2 and 3 merit it either.

epollock | Student

I don't think the story is written for them. They might have failings but none of them have had a fall worthy of a Shakespearean royal.