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00007--Characteristics of an Ideal Tragic Hero according to Aristotle

The characteristics of an Ideal Tragic Hero according to Aristotle  are :

a) He must be an eminent man.

b) He must be a good man (should be neither immoral nor vicious).

c) His character must be appropriate to his station in his life.

d) He must possess a likeness to human nature.

e) He must be consistent even in his inconsistency.


The ideal tragic hero, according to Aristotle, should be, in the first place a man of eminence.  The actions of an eminent man would be 'serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude,' as required by Aristotle.  Further, the hero should not only be eminent but also a good man, though not absolutely virtuous.  The sufferings, fall and death of an absolutely virtuous man would generate feelings of disgust rather than those of 'terror and compassion' which must be the real production of a tragic play.

Aristotle says that the tragic hero will most effectively evoke both our pity and terror if he is neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly bad but a mixture of both; and also that this tragic effect will be stronger if the hero is "better than we are," in the sense that he is of higher than ordinary moral worth. Such a man is exhibited as suffering a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of his mistaken choice of an action, to which he is led by his hamartia—his "error of judgment" or, as it is often though less literally translated, his tragic flaw. (One common form of hamartia in Greek tragedies was hubris, that "pride" or overweening self-confidence which leads a protagonist to disregard a divine warning or to violate an important moral law.) The tragic hero, like Oedipus in Sophocles' Oedipus the King, moves us to pity because, since he is not an evil man, his misfortune is greater than he deserves; but he moves us also to fear, because we recognize similar possibilities of error in our own lesser and fallible selves. Aristotle grounds his analysis of "the very structure and incidents of the play" on the same principle; the plot, he says, which will most effectively evoke "tragic pity and fear" is one in which the events develop through complication to a catastrophe in which there occurs (often by an anagnorisis, or discovery of facts hitherto unknown to the hero) a sudden peripeteia, or reversal in his fortune from happiness to disaster.  


His character must be appropriate to his station in his life which means that his character is the result of his social and cultural background.  He must also possess a likeness to human nature; he shouldn't behave like gods, which will not create a feeling of sympathy in the mind of the viewer when the hero suffers tragedy, and the very purpose of the tragedy will be at risk.    he must also possess likeness to human nature.  He should have the weakness that we do generally have apart from the fine qualities he possess as a hero. He must have consistency. He must be consistent even in his INCONSISTENCY.

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