Who Are Tragic Hero Examples for a Heroic Essay?
When you start writing your paper, it is not easy to pick hero examples for a heroic essay. Before you make up your mind, you should consider the following aspects of a tragic hero as a character. Some of them are relevant to these days, and there are many modern tragic hero examples based on them. Others, on the other hand, are considered by writers to be archaic and unnecessary, just like the rule of the three unities.
- A tragic hero had to be a protagonist of the literary piece. We observe it in ancient plays, Shakespearean works, and in some of the novels and drama works written in the 20th century. Today, however, this is not so. Even tragic heroes examples in the contemporary media are not the main characters. It is peculiar that it would be natural to make them tragic, but today's writers prefer happy-endings for their protagonists, unlike other notable characters of their books and plays.
- A tragic hero had to be high on the social scale. Again, a high social position is not a must anymore. Although tragic heroes still have to be noble (in the general sense) and decent, their virtues can't be absolute. Otherwise, they wouldn't commit the mistake on which the whole plot is built.
- Any of the tragic hero examples for a heroic essay have to commit something terrible. It can be a crime, but sometimes, this is an action considered as a crime only in this particular situation.
- An indelible part of creating a proper tragic hero and one of the basics for you to analyze tragic hero examples for a heroic essay is hubris. This is the pride that leads the hero to the fatal mistake. The hubris can't exist in a tragic hero without the tragic guilt. The clash of these traits brings us to a particular outcome.
- All tragic hero examples in the history of literature have had a tragic end. But! Death is rarely the outcome. Usually, heroes are brought to a tragic revelation that the life they knew is over, but they continue existing with this truth.
Tragic Hero Examples for a Heroic Essay
Oedipus is the protagonist of Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus Rex created in the 5th century BC. Oedipus is the king of Thebes admired by his people for helping them in all their troubles. As we can see, the requirement of high (the highest, in this case) position is fulfilled. This is no surprise, as Aristotle considered Oedipus the best of tragic hero examples. The king's personal qualities are very high too. His moral standards never allow him to do anything indecent in his life. When he finds out that it is predetermined to him to become a murderer of his own father, he leaves his home without understanding that he has made a step toward his tragic destiny.
The reader cannot but sympathize the hero. None of Oedipus's misfortune results from his own misdeeds. However, there is hubris in the character. Oedipus thought that he could trick his destiny and he couldn't be more wrong. His destiny is his nemesis, another indelible part of the tragedy. All actions the characters do join in the highest act of destiny. So, we can observe a perfect example of the unity of action.
It is peculiar that Oedipus' mother takes death as freedom. That is why he can't allow himself to die because in his opinion he doesn't deserve freedom. And this is also a reason why tragic heroes rarely die in any literary works. Another tragic hero that stayed alive proves that sometimes living brings the greater catharsis to the reader than the hero's demise.
Tragic heroes don't always commit their crimes unconsciously. They may be planned and executed with a clear picture of the consequences in the hero's head. But these ideas are always delusional, and the hero always understands it, once the crime is committed. The most prominent example of such a crime is the murder described in The Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. A young man, Rodion Raskolnikov kills an old money-lender and her sister who witnessed the first murder. At first, he is convinced that this is the right thing to do. He doesn't do it for money, although he is penniless. Raskolnikov has drawn the conclusion that killing this person will make the society better and some of the injustice can be stopped. Besides, he thinks that his intellectual level is higher than that of many others, which, from his perspective, gives him the right to decide what is better for his society and country. He can't be seen as a cold-blooded killer, somehow. His thoughts are occupied with the ideas of the perfect environment with no miseries that he sees every day. Dostoevsky describes the pictures of the city in detail for a good reason - this is a reflection of the despair that has mastered Rodion's mind.
The hero himself is opposed to this all. He is very handsome, and he is a good person, indeed. He saves children; he pays for the funeral of a person he knew. It may even seem that the good deeds Raskolnikov does in his life can compensate this terrible, terrible mistake he has done. But it wouldn't be one of the best examples of tragic heroes if Raskolnikov didn't have the tragic guilt we have discussed above. After all, he has a breakdown, and in the epilogue, he finally decides to confess. The name of the character speaks for the clash of his hubris and guilt, as in can be interpreted as 'controversy.'
Mr. Gatsby is one of the most popular hero examples for a heroic essay writing. The plot of Fitzgerald's novel has all the required elements to make him a perfect tragic hero. Gatsby is also one of the latest protagonists known as modern tragic hero examples all over the world.
Although Gatsby appears to be very mysterious about his life and income (which is no surprise given that he is not exactly what everybody thinks of him), the reader can see him as a person led by his love through all his life. This doesn't make him flawless, but we still can understand his actions and sympathize with him. However, the hubris of the character is evident too. He thinks he knows better - he is sure that when he gets Dasy, the love of his life, everything will change and all the vanity around him will disappear because he doesn't need it. But this doesn't happen. Although, there is no unity of time at all in the novel and the unity of place in very vague, the unity of action is striking. All the character are used by F.S. Fitzgerald to bring the reader to the tragic end. Besides, all the people from the parties are used to demonstrate that even if Gatsby has a higher reason for gathering them together, he has failed to build a network that could have saved him from loneliness and, eventually, from death. Except for Nick, of course, who could have become a real friend, but didn't have an opportunity, because Gatsby didn't want him around. He wanted the only person, or even the image he created in his mind - Daisy he used to know. It was before Daisy declined to say that she never loved Tom, her husband when Gatsby understood that her love and the peace it would bring to his soul were an illusion.
Gatsby is a very, very lonely person. This is rooted in his mind. But, the catharsis is still devastating for the reader. He has done the noblest thing - took the blame for the terrible crime that he didn't commit. But this could change nothing. Daisy didn't leave her husband, in fact, she didn't even show up at Gatsby's funeral, knowing that he literally died for her. All the qualities that the author endowed to Jay Gatsby allow us to add him to the list of tragic heroes admired worldwide.
Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Its effect on people, however, is often subtle at the start and hard to detect. Most proud people will never consider themselves to be truly proud until they come face to face with the consequences of their pride. Sophocles and Shakespeare both address this dilemma in their plays Oedipus and Othello. Through their nobility, their tragic flaws, the fall these flaws cause, and the suffering and wisdom they derive from these falls, Oedipus and Othello reveal the true character of the tragic hero and show the devastating consequences of pride.
Both Oedipus and Othello are distinguished by nobility: Oedipus by birth and deed and Othello by a distinguished career. Oedipus is the son of King Laius and Jocasta his wife, the king and queen of Thebes. Because of an oracle prophesying that King Laius will be murdered by his son, Oedipus is left to die in "the mountains where Cithaeron is"(1472). He is then rescued by a shepherd and raised by "Polybus. . . king of Corinth/and Merope, the Dorian" (834-35). Not only is Oedipus noble in his birth and upbringing, he is also noble in deed. Upon coming to Thebes as a young man, Oedipus answers the riddle of the Sphinx, who is terrorizing the citizens, and rids the city of this monster. In turn he is made King of Thebes and marries, unknowingly, his mother, the queen. Othello, on the other hand, is noble only by deed. He is a Moor and a barbarian by Venetian customs. He is an outsider, yet he is accepted by the Venetian people because of his distinguished career as general of the Venetian army. In defense of his lack of noble heritage, Othello asserts: "I fetch my life and being / From men of royal siege" (1.2.20-21). It is his rank that makes him noble. His contemporaries also praise him as "brave Othello" (2.1.37), and they declare that he "commands / Like a full soldier" (2.1.35-36). Oedipus and Othello have the nobility that a true tragic hero must have, yet this nobility is only the armor that covers the true weakness that lies within each man.
Although they show it in different ways, Oedipus and Othello both suffer from a similar character flaw, the sin of pride. Oedipus' pride is revealed in his belief that he is greater than the gods. He believes that he is capable of establishing his own destiny apart from the gods' control or help. When the priest, at the beginning of the story, begs Oedipus to help the people in the time of famine and trouble, he states: "It was God / That aided you, men say, and you are held / With God's assistance to have saved our lives" (43-45). The priest is referring to Oedipus' answer to the riddle of the Sphinx, which delivered the people of Thebes from the Sphinx's oppression. Later, however, Oedipus' pride is revealed when, speaking of the same event, he says: "But I came, / Oedipus, who knew nothing, and I stopped her. / I solved the riddle by my wit alone" (433-35). Othello also suffers from the hamartia of pride. His pride, however, stems from his insecurity concerning his appearance and social graces. His father-in-law speaks of Othello's "sooty bosom" in reference to his blackness (1.2.69). Othello admits freely that he is "rude . . . in [his] speech" (1.3.81). And finally, insight is given to this appearance through the words of Brabantio, his father-in-law, who speaks incredulously of his daughter's love for Othello: "To fall in love with what she feared to look upon" (1.3.98). The insecurity Othello feels concerning his appearance and social graces ultimately leads to jealousy over Desdemona's love for him, yet, within this jealousy, his true fear and pride are revealed. Othello's true fear is what other people will think about him. When Iago prods him, Othello says: "My name, that was as fresh / As Dian's visage, is now begrimed and black" (3.3.383-84). Later, when speaking to Desdemona, Othello whines: "But alas, to make me / The fixed figure for the time of scorn" (4. 2.53). Othello fears that other men will laugh at him because of the unfaithfulness of his wife, and his pride is what truly motivates his desire for revenge. Pride becomes the fertile ground in both Oedipus and Othello for the seeds of their destruction and ruin.
Although the details vary, Oedipus and Othello both suffer great shame and loss because of the pride within their hearts. Oedipus' pride is turned to shame as his murder of his father and his incestuous relationship with his mother are brought to light. Then he begins to lose those things that are most precious to him. First, he loses his mother and wife as Jocasta is found "hanging, the twisted rope around her neck" (1294). Next he loses his sight as he takes Jocasta's "gold chased brooches fastening her robe" (1299) and dashes "them upon his eyeballs" (1301). Finally, he loses his kingdom as Teiresias' prophecy is fulfilled: "blindness for sight / And beggary for riches his exchange" (503-504). Othello's pride is also turned to shame as he listens to the villainous Iago and murders his innocent wife. In doing this terrible deed, he also loses those things most precious to him. First, he loses his true love as Desdemona forgives him from her death bed by trying to hide his guilt. When asked "Who has done this deed?" she replies: "Nobody-I myself" (5.2.123-4). Later, Othello admits that he "threw a pearl away / Richer than all his tribe" (5.2.343-44). Then he completely loses his honor as he is replaced by Cassio as governor and branded a murderer. Finally, he loses his life as he declares: "I took by the throat the circumcised dog / And smote him-thus" (5.2.351-52) as he kills himself. Pride destroys both Oedipus and Othello.
Oedipus and Othello both learn through their experiences that pride is a destructive vice indeed, and that men who choose to be proud are destined for great suffering in this life. Blind Oedipus and dead Othello, who feared even greater suffering beyond the grave, are true tragic heroes in their final state, for it is here that people can look upon them and learn what they learned only too late. Pride is deadly.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Ed. X. J. Kennedy. 5th ed. New York: Harper, 1991. 1046- 1133.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Ed. X. J. Kennedy. 5th ed. New York: Harper, 1991. 999-1039.