Aristotle’s principle of the Tragic Hero

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26 December 2021

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“A man doesn’t become a hero until he can see the foundation of his personal downfall” Tragic hero’s who fit underneath Aristotle’s depiction are known as ‘Aristotelian Tragic Hero’s’ and possess 5 specific characteristics; 1) A flaw or error of judgment (also known as ‘hamartia’ which is a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine) 2) A reversal of fortune due to the error of judgment (also known as ‘peripeteia’, which is a sudden reversal of fortune or change in circumstances) 3) The discovery or recognition that the reversal was led to by the hero’s own actions (Referred to as ‘anagnorisis’, which is a moment in a play when a character makes a crucial discovery) 4) Excessive pride (hubris)

5) The character’s fate have to be larger than deserved’.

In the beginning, the character should be seen as equal morally to regular individuals in order for the audience to identify with him/her. This identification allows the sentiment of ‘pity’ which is essential in a tragic play.

The Aristotelian tragic hero inevitably suffers a tragic demise, having fallen from great heights and made an irreversible mistake. The hero must courageously settle for their dying with honour.

Other common traits of the Aristotelian tragic hero:
a) Hero must suffer greater than he deserves
b) Hero have to be doomed from the start, but bears no accountability for possessing his flaw.
c) Hero must be noble in nature, but be imperfect in order that the audience can see themselves in him.

d) Hero must have found his fate by his personal actions, not by things taking place to him.
e) Hero should perceive his doom, as nicely as the fact that his fate was found by his personal actions.
f) Hero’s story ought to arouse fear and empathy.
g) Hero have to be bodily or spiritually wounded by his experiences, normally resulting in his dying.
h) The hero must be clever so that he may be taught from his mistakes. i) The hero should have a weakness, often, it is satisfaction.

j) He must be faced with a really critical choice that he should face.

Aristotle identifies tragedy as probably the most refined version of poetry dealing with lofty matters and comedy as the most refined version of poetry dealing with base matters. He traces a quick and speculative historical past of tragedy as it evolved from dithyrambic hymns in praise of the god Dionysus. Dithyrambs were sung by a big choir, typically that includes a narrator. Aeschylus invented tragedy by bringing a second actor into dialogue with the narrator. Sophocles innovated further by introducing a 3rd actor, and gradually tragedy shifted to its contemporary dramatic kind. Aristotle defines tragedy in accordance with seven characteristics: (1) it is mimetic, (2) it’s serious, (3) it tells a full story of an acceptable length, (4) it contains rhythm and concord, (5) rhythm and concord occur in several mixtures in different parts of the tragedy, (6) it is performed somewhat than narrated, and (7) it arouses emotions of pity and worry after which purges these feelings by way of catharsis. A tragedy consists of six part elements, that are listed right here in order from most essential to least necessary: plot, character, thought, diction, melody, and spectacle.

A well-formed plot should have a starting, which is not a needed consequence of any earlier motion; a middle, which follows logically from the start; and an end, which follows logically from the center and from which no additional action necessarily follows. The plot ought to be unified, that means that each factor of the plot should tie in to the remainder of the plot, leaving no free ends. This sort of unity permits tragedy to precise universal themes powerfully, which makes it superior to history, which might only discuss particular events. Episodic plots are unhealthy as a outcome of there isn’t a necessity to the sequence of events. The finest type of plot accommodates surprises, however surprises that, looking back, fit logically into the sequence of events. The finest kinds of surprises are caused by peripeteia, or reversal of fortune, and anagnorisis, or discovery. A good plot progresses like a knot that’s tied up with increasingly higher complexity until the second of peripeteia, at which point the knot is gradually untied till it reaches a completely unknotted conclusion.

For a tragedy to arouse pity and worry, we must observe a hero who is comparatively noble going from happiness to misery because of error on the a part of the hero. Our pity and worry is aroused most when it’s relations who hurt each other somewhat than enemies or strangers. In the best sort of plot, one character narrowly avoids killing a member of the family unwittingly because of an anagnorisis that reveals the family connection. The hero must have good qualities applicable to his or her station and should be portrayed realistically and consistently. Since each the character of the hero and the plot should have logical consistency, Aristotle concludes that the untying of the plot must follow as a essential consequence of the plot and not from stage artifice, like a deus ex machina (a machine utilized in some performs, in which an actor taking part in one of the gods was lowered onto the stage on the end). Aristotle discusses thought and diction and then moves on to deal with epic poetry.

Whereas tragedy consists of actions offered in a dramatic form, epic poetry consists of verse presented in a narrative type. Tragedy and epic poetry have many frequent qualities, most notably the unity of plot and related material. However, epic poetry could be longer than tragedy, and because it is not performed, it could deal with extra fantastic action with a much wider scope. By contrast, tragedy may be more focused and takes advantage of the units of music and spectacle. Epic poetry and tragedy are additionally written in numerous meters. After defending poetry towards costs that it deals with improbable or impossible events, Aristotle concludes by weighing tragedy towards epic poetry and figuring out that tragedy is on the whole superior. Aristotle takes a scientific strategy to poetry, which bears as many disadvantages as advantages. He studies poetry as he would a natural phenomenon, observing and analyzing first, and only afterward making tentative hypotheses and suggestions.

The scientific approach works best at figuring out the target, lawlike habits that underlies the phenomena being noticed. To this finish, Aristotle attracts some necessary basic conclusions concerning the nature of poetry and how it achieves its effects. However, in assuming that there are goal laws underlying poetry, Aristotle fails to understand the methods during which artwork usually progresses precisely by overturning the assumed legal guidelines of a previous era. If each play had been written in strict accordance with a given set of laws for a protracted enough time, a revolutionary playwright would have the ability to obtain highly effective effects by consciously violating these legal guidelines. In point of reality, Euripides, the final of the three great tragic poets of Ancient Greece, wrote many performs that violated the logical and structured ideas of Aristotle’s Poetics in a acutely aware effort to depict a world that he noticed as neither logical nor structured. Aristotle himself gives mixed critiques to Euripides’ troubling performs, however they’re nonetheless performed two and a half millennia after they had been written. Aristotle’s idea of mimesis helps him to explain what’s distinctive about our expertise of artwork. Poetry is mimetic, meaning that it invitations us to imagine its material as actual while acknowledging that it is actually fictional.

When Aristotle contrasts poetry with philosophy, his level just isn’t a lot that poetry is mimetic as a outcome of it portrays what is actual whereas philosophy is nonmimetic because it portrays solely concepts. Rather, the point is that the ideas discussed in philosophical texts are as actual as any concepts ever are. When we see an actor taking half in Oedipus, this actor is clearly a substitute via which we are able to think about what an actual Oedipus could be like. When we learn Aristotle’s concepts on artwork, we’re in direct contact with the concepts, and there is nothing extra actual to imagine. Art presents actuality at one level of take away, allowing us a sure detachment. We don’t call the police once we see Hamlet kill Polonius as a result of we know that we aren’t seeing a real occasion however solely two actors imitating real-world potentialities.

Because we are conscious of the mimesis involved in art, we are indifferent sufficient that we can mirror on what we are experiencing and so learn from it. Witnessing a homicide in actual life is emotionally scarring. Witnessing a murder on stage offers us a chance to reflect on the character and causes of human violence so that we will lead a extra reflective and delicate life. Aristotle identifies catharsis as the distinctive expertise of art, though it isn’t clear whether or not he signifies that catharsis is the purpose of art or simply an effect. The Greek word katharsis initially means purging or purification and refers also to the induction of vomiting by a well being care provider to rid the body of impurities. Aristotle uses the time period metaphorically to check with the discharge of the feelings of pity and fear constructed up in a dramatic efficiency.

Because dramatic performances finish, whereas life goes on, we will let go of the strain that builds during a dramatic performance in a way that we regularly can’t let go of the strain that builds up over the course of our lives. Because we can let go of it, the emotional intensity of art deepens us, whereas emotional depth in life usually just hardens us. However, if this means of catharsis that permits us to experience powerful emotions and then let them go is the final word function of artwork, then art turns into the equal of therapy. If we outline catharsis as the purpose of artwork, we’ve failed to define art in a means that explains why it’s still necessary in an era of psychiatry. A more beneficiant studying of Aristotle might interpret catharsis as a means to a less easily outlined finish, which includes a deeper capability for feeling and compassion, a deeper awareness of what our humanity consists in. Aristotle insists on the primacy of plot as a result of the plot is ultimately what we will study from in a chunk of artwork.

The word we translate as “plot” is the Greek wordmuthos, which is the basis for fable. Muthos is a extra common time period than plot, as it could apply to any artwork form, together with music or sculpture. The muthos of a bit of artwork is its basic structure and group, the shape according to which the themes and concepts within the piece of art make themselves obvious. The plot of a narrative, as the time period is used in the Poetics, isn’t the sequence of occasions a lot because the logical relationships that exist between occasions. For Aristotle, the tighter the logical relationships between occasions, the better the plot. Oedipus Rex is a powerful tragedy exactly as a outcome of we are ready to see the logical inevitability with which the occasions within the story fall together. The logical relationships between occasions in a story help us to understand logical relationships between the occasions in our own lives. In essence, tragedy shows us patterns in human experience that we can then use to make sense of our own expertise.

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"Aristotle’s principle of the Tragic Hero" StudyScroll, 26 December 2021,

StudyScroll. (2021). Aristotle’s principle of the Tragic Hero [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 9 August, 2022]

"Aristotle’s principle of the Tragic Hero" StudyScroll, Dec 26, 2021. Accessed Aug 9, 2022.

"Aristotle’s principle of the Tragic Hero" StudyScroll, Dec 26, 2021.

"Aristotle’s principle of the Tragic Hero" StudyScroll, 26-Dec-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 9-Aug-2022]

StudyScroll. (2021). Aristotle’s principle of the Tragic Hero. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 9-Aug-2022]

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