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The name tragic hero which has become synonymous with Shakespearean dramas was developed before Hamlet Macbeth or any of Shakespeares well-known plays were written The literary term was actually discovered around 330 BC by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle Through his theory of catharsis Aristotle debated that the great plays of Sophicles Euripides and other Greek playwrights contained tragic heroes similar to each other which all portrayed four basic characteristics English Lit These qualities were a tragic flaw or harmartia they all were from a noble class with very human personalities and they all face their tragedy with dignity It is not until the late 1500s that Shakespeare began to utilize Aristotles observations in the production of his many tragedies Desjardens Probably the most important characteristic of a Shakespearean tragic hero is that one must posses a tragic flaw because without the flaw there would never be a downfall The ultimate flaw varies from one play to another King Lears flaw is that of arrogance while Macbeths it one of ambition Some characters may be guilty of harboring many flaws like Othello Among Othellos wrongs are gullibility and stupidity In either case the character never realizes ones flaws until act five however by that time it is too late Desjardens While the tragic flaw is the key element in a tragedy the tragic heros social status is also of high importance All tragic heroes are from a very noble class Whether the heroes are Thanes or Generals in the army like Macbeth Othello and Antony or from royalty like King Lear Hamlet or Cleopatra each eventually fall from grace This characteristic was used mostly to help the common people identify with the wealthier upper class If the ruling class which was generally looked upon with favor and prestige could sin much like the commoners did then no one group of people were more superior Desjardens Though the tragic heroes were from the noble
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