A tragic hero can be defined in many different ways, by their flaws, their unfair fate, their pride or when they really recognise what they have done to have turned their fate upon them. In these 4 texts, I will identify these 4 vastly different texts that can all be defined as having a character who is a tragic hero. heroes I believe that the strongest of these characteristics is the tragics hero flaw and their excessive pride as these are both what leads to a charters downfall. In this essay, I will understand the similarities and differences of how these essays still contribute to the same emotions from the viewer or reader even with their vastly different storylines, ages and audiences.
Lear a Tragic Hero
King Lear is a very well known tragic hero and could be described as an almost perfect match to Aristotle’s description. Lear is a Character who always means well but doesn’t necessarily end up well for anyone. His tragic flaw is his stubborn personality and inability to see the bigger picture or anything else that is going on around him, therefore, leading him to his ultimate downfall into insanity and fate of losing all 3 of his daughters which he does not deserve. In my opinion, these characteristics are what makes him are what make him such a convincing example of an Aristotle tragic hero. An example of his stubborn personality is his refusal to look past his own beliefs to see the truth. When Lear decides he will split his kingdom he declares ‘Tell me, my daughters, which of you shall we say doth love us most?’ suggesting that he will gift the largest part of his kingdom to whoever shows him the most love. This quote alone shows precisely his excessive pride. Shakespear shows the audience exactly what kind of man he is in this sentence because it shows us that he values himself, finds himself more important than anyone else and acts in a way that an amount of love someone has for him could be exchanged as a currency. This shows us his pride and how important he thinks he really is. This is reinforced when Cordelia decides ‘I love your majesty According to my bond; no more nor less.’ From Lear’s pedestal of stubborn pride, he is unable to understand that she is the only daughter that can see through his pride and can do what is right for him. Cordelia does not fake her love for him instead he chooses to fight for what she believes is right even if lear will never be able to understand. This is an example of what Aristotle describes as a flaw and excessive pride link very closely in King Lear to the point where you could say that Lear’s pride almost is his flaw. This is important when describing him as a tragic hero because, in my opinion, these are the two most important features of the character. I believe this because they are the characteristics that cause the hero to become tragic and then go on to cause all of the other features such as their reversal of fortune, realisation that the character brought this upon themselves and consequently their fate that is greater than what they deserve.
The wolf of walls street’s Jordan Belford is not necessarily a tragic hero in the same sense as lear but in a unique way, Martin Scorsese has crafted the wolf of wall street with a very dramatic rise and fall. As someone watching the film from the start you get the feeling that there isn’t going to be a happy ending and sadly that becomes reality for Jordan. In Lear, we see lear with power from the start and don’t watch him rise to his position of power. However, in The wolf of wall street, we watch Jordan grow and build his empire grow into a character and develop his greed and pride. Jordan is a character that we grow to love because we watch him work and play smart to get to the places he wants to be and as an audience, I feel that he is somewhat more likeable then lear because we gain a connection with him in a different way. Even though what Jordan does much worse to other people compared to lear only hurting himself we find Jordan more thrilling and likeable because the director has positioned the whole movie around him as a character and not who he has hurt or has stolen from. Jordan’s flaw is his greed and much like lear, it is heavily linked to his excessive pride. At the start of the film, we see a young Jordan wanting to get rich, he’s likeable, turns down drugs and polite but has a willingness to do whatever is needed to get to where he wants to be. An example of Jordan’s greed is when his 2nd wife Naomie confronts him about calling another woman’s name in his sleep. When he lies to her denying everything her response was “Jorand you’re a father now. And you’re still acting like an infant.” This quote represents really well the way that Jordan acts and how his greed drives him to do stupid reckless things. He can never have enough money, drugs or woman and his greed drives him to do stupid things and just keep doing worse. His greed definitely contributes to his pride we especially see this more towards the end of the film. Just as Jorden is about to be arrested and his only real option is to leave his business and everything he has built he and he refuses to give up because he doesn’t want to lose everything that he loves such as the money the drugs and the woman that this business gave him the opportunity to have. When he feels the support and love that he gets from his supporters he can’t give it all up saying “You know what. I’m not leaving.” This shows his greed and pride taking over all else and majorly becoming his flaw because this mistake is what will bring him to his reversal of fortune.
In Ridley Scott’s film gladiator the Maximus that films main character and Tragic hero are similar in some ways but also have big differences in how their tragedies unravel. In Gladiator, Maximus has a tragic flaw stubbornness. Quite like lear and Jordan his stubbornness and unwillingness to see that he can not do it is his major downfall. Maximus is faced with a hard battle after being told by his Emperor Marcus that his son Commodus is unfit to lead Rome and requests that he do so instead. This is definitely a high point for Maximus and all is going well until he hears the news that the Marcus has been killed and Commudus will now be standing in as leader. This Ends up mostly to not fault of Maximus’s bringing him down future. He goes from being the most powerful general in Rome to being sold into slavery all because of the jealousy of commandos. This is the first difference in the storyline between Jordan and Maximus. Jordan never had any downfalls that he didn’t contribute to himself. I think Maxumis being sold into slavery is not necessarily what makes him a tragic hero but I think it is the actions and the unwillingness to fail that come from it. Maxumis is a likeable character to us in a different way to why we like Jordan. Maximus never actually does anything drastically wrong to hurt other people the way Jordan does and that’s why it is harder for us as viewers to see his flaw. Maximus is seen as a very resilient character because no matter what is thrown at him he always seems to fight back. For an audience and for the mob in the film this is seen as a truly heroic person but the more he does this the more tragically he fall. There is really no way that he can fight against commandos and I believe that he knows that. No matter how many times he wins commutes will make him fall even if that means putting him up against a whole army of me. His fate greater than what he deserves happens much earlier in the film when commudos’ army goes to his family home hangs his child and wife then burn them. This is another difference to Jordan because even know he has already fallen and really his fate is already so much worse than he deserves he still chooses to fight on and not give in which in the end along with his pride is his flaw. I think a quote that displays both these characteristics well is “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true Emperor Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife – and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” Even though he knows his fate and understands what is coming for him he still fights it and is still stubborn with pride. He knows that in the end, he will die in the hands of Commodus but choices to fight anyway. This is a way makes him similar to Jordan when he decides not to give up his company. He knows there is no way he can beat the FBI but he his greed and pride won’t let him give up something that he has worked for.
Romeo + Juliet is a remake of a very well known story originally written by William Shakespeare and directed by Baz Luhrman. His impression of the script gives the film a new vibe of which they are living in a modern world. Romeo the films main charter is a sweet young man who just wants love. He is the son of the leader if the Montague’s who are a family that has had an agelong feud with the Capulet’s. When Romeo falls in love with the young daughter of the capulet’s leader at a gathering that he has sneaked into he knows that their love is forbidden but chooses to pursue it anyway. When Juliet is forced to marry another boy Paris, Romeo and Juliet decide that they will get married behind their parents back so that they can be happy forever. When the times comes that Juliet is to marry Paris she drinks a poison that makes her appear dead. When Romeo finds her like this his flaw shows. He can be very rash and can often not think things through to see the bigger picture before following through with his actions. In a way, this is very similar to both lear and Jordan of my other tragic heroes as they all struggle to see the bigger picture and choose to do what is right for them and those around them. For example, lear acts irrationally when he gives up his kingdom to the daughter who says she loves him the most without listening to reasoning from Cordelia. Or Jordan who even when he is told that he should give up everything at the moment he acts irrationally and refuses too. Romeo has this moment when he finds Juliet’s dead looking body and breaks down exclaiming “Here’s to my love! Drinking. O true apothecary,
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” He Relates differently to Maximus. Maximus and Romeo are similar in terms of how they aren’t inherently bad. Both Romeo and Maximus are seen as characters that are likeable and from the start, we like both of them. We fell pity for Romeo because he has just had his heart broken and for Maximus, we trust him because his emperor and leader trust him. We see this in Romeo and Juliet when Romeo is lusting over Rosaline “Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should without eyes see pathways to his will” this makes us like him as a character because we can relate we like the emotion that Shakespeare gives us that we don’t get at the start of lear because the first thing we understand in lear is him doing wrong.
Overall I believe that the two most important characteristics of a tragic hero are their flaw and their pride. In most tragic heroes these are linked together. Lear, Jordan, Maximus and Romeo are all very closely linked by these characteristics. These 4 texts are very different in terms of setting and audience but still draw the same emotions and feelings from the viewers. In conclusion, these 4 texts come under the genera of a tragedy even when we only look at two aspects of characteristics that make a tragic hero.