Importance Of Tragic Heroes In English Literature


While reading a novel, readers like to bond with their characters and feel all emotions that the characters feel, be it excitement, hurt, love, failure. When they die or get murdered (you know bad things happen to good people a lot), readers feel a whole another level of hurt and find it a traffic loss. You don’t have to watch Television to get this sentiment because characters that are so perfectly defined in books accomplish this result and end up being the tragic heroes. You also find tragic heroes committing damaging mistakes and ending up in a pit of loneliness, despair, death, and other sorts of downfall. The question arises: What is it that forms a tragic hero? Check out some great examples that will help you in catching the right answer and inspiring you to write your essay.

Introduction to tragic heroes:

In case you’re wondering who tragic heroes are, they are protagonists. A tragic hero is literally ‘tragic’ in some way, but he is more than that. He is generally the central character who makes a crucial mistake in decisions eventually leading to intense consequences. You can take an example from a classical Aristotle tragedy, Oedipus.

Their main qualities:

To gain an intimidate knowledge about tragic heroes, you should learn their key characteristics:

  1. A serious mistake eventually leading the hero to his/her ruin or demise
  2. A misfortune of fate
  3. Disregarding the natural order because of their arrogance or pride
  4. Intense consequences and inevitable situations due to disrespect
  5. Significant discoveries
  6. The sadness, pity, or fear that readers experience toward tragic heroes next to the downfall

Tragic heroes go through major suffering than any character deserves to. It is imperative for the most anticipated response from the readers. They stay neutral on an ethical scale to come off more relatable, and this is exactly what upsets the audience when they encounter a sad face or even sadder when they die. Tragic heroes must undergo that suffering as consequences of their actions or flaws, which weren’t in their control, and almost all of them realize that when the story ends.

Where can you find tragic heroes and how?

English Literature has a bunch of traffic heroes. Every tragedy involves one, that includes Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo, and the list never ends. Select epic poems, adult novels, or books for kids. Concentrate on your connection and bonding to characters and evaluate if you can find them relatable and feel bad about their misfortune of if they are flawed. These points depict that they are tragic heroes. Then, determine the reason as to why their life went upside down, it can be any flaw. For instance, if we talk about The Hunger Games, Cinna was killed by the Capitol, due to his pride and rebellious nature, and readers still feel awful about it.

Some great examples of these heroes:

If you need some examples of tragic heroes that will help you in writing your essay, check these great examples below:

  • Romeo (Shakespeare)
  • Jay Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • Hamlet (Shakespeare)
  • Severus Snape (J.K. Rowling)

Romeo (Shakespeare)

Romeo’s flaw is that he has an obsessive love for Juliet and is hyper-emotional. It leads to Romeo’s downfall since he kills himself whilst imagining Juliet being dead. Committing suicide causes Juliet’s death.

Jay Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Jay Gatsby expires chasing the epitomes that will never turn true. He is uncompromising in his touching love for Daisy. He is ready to do anything for, but she wouldn’t. While Gatsby is busy chasing his perfect persona and never seems to be satisfied. When he finally gets her, he still is unhappy.

Hamlet (Shakespeare)

Hamlet is a nobleman and a smart guy. His flaws are that he is indecisive and obsessed which was the cause of ultimate downfall. What Hamlet wants is to take vengeance of his father’s death. Hamlet’s indecisiveness is the main problem. After learning that his father was killed by his uncle, he fails in deciding how to enact the revenge and wastes his time until his uncle gives him poison. But, that poison results in the death of Hamlet’s mother as she drinks it by mistake. Later, he resolves his flaws and dies.

Severus Snape (J.K. Rowling)

Most people agree upon Severus Snape being a tragic hero while others disagree. Like all other tragic heroes, he also has a flaw that leads to his downfall. He has an infinite love for Lily, so he tends to watch after Harry Potter, even though he isn’t fond of him.

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