Modern tragic hero examples include:
- Joe Ganim
- Gen. David Petraeus
- John Rowland
- Richard Nixon
- Bill Clinton
- Anorld Schwarzenegger
- Ted Kennedy
- Elliot Spitzer
- Janet Napolitano
- John Edwards.
- Paris Hilton
- Britney Spears
- Robin Williams
- James Dean
- Mel Gibson
- Howard Hughes
- Amy Winehouse
- Judy Garland
- Jimi Hendrix
- Charlie Sheen
- Nicole Richie
- Michael Jackson
- Kurt Cobain
- Amanda Bynes
- Jim Morrison.
- Mike Tyson- Boxing
- Tiger Woods- Golf
- Len Bias- Baseball
- Lance Armstrong- Cycling
- Ray Rice- Football
- Ben Johnson- Sprinter
- Michael Phelps- Swimming
- Alex Rodriguez- Baseball
- Maurice Clarett- College Football
- Oscar Pistorius- Tracks.
Tragic Hero Definition
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle defined the tragic hero idea based on his study of Greek drama. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is a character with heroic traits who experiences a tragic flaw that leads to their downfall.
The tragic hero is mostly the protagonist. However, there are few instances where antagonists are tragic heroes. There are six principles of modern tragic hero examples:
The flaw that leads to the character’s downfall
Making a crucial discovery
These are the pent-up emotions experienced by the audience after the tragic hero’s downfall. According to Aristotle, three emotions should be evoked by a good tragedy. They include:
The Evolution of the Tragic Hero
The critical element to a tragedy is a tragic hero. However, the definition of the tragic hero has tremendously evolved from Aristotle’s time to modern times.
However, certain features apply to a tragic figure. They include:
Being virtuous means having a noble character. Henceforth, the modern tragic hero should be honourable and have the morals of the Greek culture. In addition, the tragic hero should be firm and possess heroic characteristics.
All these traits make the character look attractive and compelling to the audience. Consequently, the audience’s sympathy is aroused.
Suffer a reversal of fortune
A reversal of fortune includes:
- Loss of money
- Loss of status quo
- Tragic death
- Extreme suffering
- Change of character from good to bad.
All the above elements explain the reversal of fortune experienced by a tragic hero. In a nutshell, the ancient tragic hero fits the description of a man of noble birth and with heroic qualities switching sides.
Aristotle believed that a tragic hero must be deeply flawed. This is known as hamartia. A tragic flaw is like a human error that ultimately leads to the character’s downfall for a hero.
According to Aristotle, the flaws make the character relatable to the audience. Consequently, the audience feels deeply for the tragic hero.
In addition, the tragic flaw is a powerful element since it is the primary source of the tragedy. No external forces are shaping the tragic event. Instead, the fatal flaws of the tragic hero are responsible for the tragedy.
For example, a quest for seeking that leads to a tragedy or hubris. In such situations, the modern tragic hero example is destined to cause their destruction by nature.
The character suffers physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental torture due to their bad choices.
The Modern Tragic Hero
In consequence of the technological era and Romanticism, a new tragic hero emerged. The modern tragic hero is described as the anti hero. However, the anti hero is mainly adopted by the Western culture while the European, Africa, and Asia cultures still stick to the Greek version of a modern tragic hero example.
The modern tragedy focuses more on societal and external forces than fate or inward vices. Moreover, the modern tragic hero examples focus more on the ordinary person.
The modern version of the tragic hero is an individual unworthy of consideration rather than someone who drastically falls from a high to a low-status quo. The protagonist may not even fulfill his heroic destiny or change the tragic events.
Unlike the ancient tragic hero, the modern protagonist has more features. They include:
All class backgrounds
In modern society, the modern tragic hero examples need not come from a noble or a royal family. An ordinary person from any class or status can fit the role of a protagonist.
Initially, modern tragic hero examples were primarily men. Currently, even females fit the role perfectly.
Lack of heroic qualities
The modern tragic hero examples are people with no typical conventional hero traits.
Gain the audience’s sympathy
Even though the anti hero lacks most conventional traits of a traditional tragic hero, the character must elicit sympathy from the audience. Despite the hero’s best efforts, they should face the downfall.
However, some modern tragedies end without giving the audience closure or even the hero’s death.
Jay Gatsby as a modern tragic hero
Scott Fitzgerald’s novel(The Great Gatsby) narrates a young man and mysterious millionaire named Jay Gatsby. He is a soldier who longed to reunite with Daisy’s first love. However, Daisy is married to a wealthy man.
Consequently, Jay acquires riches through dubious ways and rents a house where he throws lavish parties hoping to win her back. The two start a relationship since Daisy’s husband has a mistress. However, the relationship ends tragically when Daisy kills her husband’s mistress, and the mistress’s husband kills Jay.
Jay’s quest for winning back his young love led to his downfall.
The Difference Between the Classic Tragic Hero Examples and Modern Tragic Hero Examples
- Classic tragic hero examples are limited to a noble protagonist with heroic character traits, while the modern tragic hero examples are people with real problems.
- Classic tragic hero examples have royal backgrounds, while the modern tragic hero examples are not limited to the background.
- The plot of the classic hero examples is to save a kingdom, while the modern tragic hero examples plot to solve real problems.
- The downfall of the classic hero is a consequence of his fatal flaw, while the modern tragic hero examples fall due to societal or external factors.
- In classic tragedies, the tragic hero is usually one main character, while in modern tragedies, the modern tragic hero examples are more than one character.
Modern Tragic Hero Examples in Drama
A tragic hero is a protagonist with a fatal flaw and is destined for destruction either by the shortcoming or external forces. Although the meaning of a tragic hero has evolved over the years, the defining features are constant—for instance, the mandatory downfall or suffering and sympathy from the audience.
Modern tragic hero examples in drama include:
Oedipus in the play Oedipus Rex
The most common tragic flaw is hubris, which is well revealed by King Oedipus, who is exceptionally self-centred but caring and just. The king seeks to save his people from the dreadful plague. A prophet tells him to seek the previous King’s (King Laius) killer to save his people.
The prophet then reveals that Oedipus is a murderer and should repent. However, Oedipus sought King Laius’s killer but disregarded the second prophecy.
He then realized he was the killer of King Laius, who was his father. Consequently, Oedipus suffers from guilt after discovering he is the cause of the plague and commits suicide. Oedipus is a tragic hero since he causes his downfall.
Willy Loman in the play death of a salesman
Death of a salesman is a play by Arthur Miller about Willy Lowman, who was neither noble nor wealthy but an ordinary citizen. A protagonist is a family man who struggles to make ends meet for his family. In addition, William had the American dream of being financially, mentally, and socially prosperous.
However, at 40 years, William is still a struggling salesman. In addition, he has two promising sons in high school and can’t afford to pay their fees. Due to his love for his family, William commits suicide to benefit from insurance money.
William is a tragic hero who is deeply flawed by his obsession with success, leading to his death.
Tragic Flaw: Definition and Example
A tragic flaw is a fatal weakness in a character that causes great suffering or the downfall of a tragic hero. A fatal flaw is a mandatory feature of a tragic character.
Examples of tragic flaws in modern tragic hero examples include:
Example 1: Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Hester Prynne is the tragic heroine in the book “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the story, Hester is a loving, caring, and passionate wife who is highly mistreated, consequently invoking pity and sympathy from the reader.
Hester’s need for affection and compassion ultimately lead her to unfaithfulness. In the book, she commits adultery with Reverend Dimmesdale, which leads to her isolation and suffering within the Puritan community. Hester will have to bear the isolation burden forever even though she regrets nothing.
In addition to being a mother, her strength, hard work, and perseverance made her survive the isolation. However, Hester lacked a man’s affection which made her callous. However, Hester was still living in Boston despite the harrowing isolation. She then embarked on a mission to help and support other women with the same problem.
Even after redeeming herself, Hester never found the love and affection she desired. Her ordeal changed her from a loving and caring to a callous woman. Her constant search for companionship caused her more pain and grief, which describes her as a tragic heroine.
The whole story narrates how the search for love and companionship is Hester’s fatal flaw. Her tragic flaw led to her committing adultery which caused her eternal suffering.
Hester Prynne is a perfect example of a modern tragic hero.
Example 2: Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)
Mary Shelly, in her novel Frankenstein, narrates a tale of a tragic hero, Victor Frankenstein. Victor is a villain who creates a demon that haunts and devastates the Frankenstein family and friends mercilessly.
Victor had a special gift in science which represents his tragic flaw. The hero is on a mission to destroy the Frankenstein family. The story narrates how the protagonist tried to accomplish his task by creating a demon using his gift in science. An offensive strategy that eventually led to his downfall.
In the introduction, Mary Shelly invokes emotions of pity from the audience by revealing an innocent character. The character then changes from good to bad hence expressing his tragic flaw. From the start to the END of the novel, Victor’s path is that of a tragic hero, making him the classic tragic hero described by Aristotle.
Example 3: Othello (Othello by William Shakespeare)
Othello is a perfect example of a classic tragic hero. He was a man of good conduct but had fatal flaws that led to his doom.
According to Shakespeare, Othello is a great and respected military leader of good stature and heroic character. Othello was morally upright, humble, brave, and had a good understanding of speech and behaviour.
Furthermore, his experience on the battlefield earned him immense respect from the Duke of Venice. The respect was so tremendous that the duke could not go to war without Othello.
However, despite all the virtues, Othello had several tragic flaws. He was too trustworthy, extremely jealous, and an irrational decision-maker. Othello was too reliable of his wife and his dear friend Iago, who engaged in sexual relations.
Consequently, Othello is filled with jealousy and reacts irrationally. He then ends up killing his wife and committing suicide. In a nutshell, Othello’s tragic flaws led to his downfall, classifying him as a tragic hero.
What is an Anti Hero?
An anti-hero is a protagonist lacking some features of a traditional tragic hero. Some of these features include character traits and morals. Although antiheroes might be noble, their intentions and actions are not always right.
For example, an anti-hero might rescue someone from danger to further their interests, not help them. There are five types of anti-heroes. They include:
The classic anti-hero
The protagonist portrays the complete opposite of a typical tragic hero. Instead of being brave, strong, of good stature, and displaying all the heroic qualities, the protagonist is fearful, cowardly, ignorant, and weak in battle.
Classic anti-heroes defy all the perceptions of heroism. A good example is Bilbo Baggins from the movie The Hobbit.
The knight in sour armour
They are also known as reluctant tragic heroes. They can save someone or a situation, but they do not feel the urgency to help. Unless they benefit from the scheme, no difference will be made even if they intervene. A good example is Han Solo in the movie a new hope.
The pragmatic anti-hero
This kind of anti-hero is the dark side of the knight in sour armour. The protagonist is entirely reluctant even to play the role of the hero. However, the pragmatic hero is likely to help if his intervention benefits them.
A good example is Edmund Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia.
The unscrupulous anti hero
This protagonist is led by past traumas and a thirst for revenge. Although the hero’s intentions are pure, the character uses unnecessary violence on the villain. The hero even enjoys inflicting extreme suffering on the villain. An example is Conan the Barbarian.
The hero in name only
Although this protagonist plays the role of a tragic hero, their intentions are impure. However, the character is redeemable compared to the villain. A good example is Walter White in the movie Breaking Bad.
Do you need help creating modern tragic heroes? Contact galaxygrades.com for all the queries concerning tragic heroes. Make an order right away!