The Tragic Hero in Literature

4 April 2015
An analysis of two literary works with the purpose of understanding the concept of the “tragic hero”.

This paper discusses “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles and “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare in order to illustrate the tragic hero. The paper explains that a literary work must contain irony in its story, and the tragic hero must have a “tragic flaw” in character (hamartia) that will ultimately become the catalyst for his downfall to materialize, making him the “tragic hero” of the story.
“Another example of a tragedy is William Shakespeare’s literary work entitled, Hamlet. The story also evolves around the theme of finding out the truth, although the truth in this story revolves around the identity of King Hamlet’s (Hamlet’s father) murderer. Hamlet illustrates irony in Hamlet’s character, especially when he expresses wrath and anger when he found out that Claudius, his father’s brother and the new husband of Hamlet’s mother, is King Hamlet’s murderer.

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The lines in the story voiced out by Hamlet (A villain kills my father, and for that/ I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven?/ When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage?/ At gaming, swearing, or about some act/ That has no relish of salvation in it/ And that his soul may be as damned and black/ As hell whereto he goes) illustrates his anger against Claudius and his murder, but these lines by Hamlet contradicted his previous actions of sparing Claudius death, just when Hamlet was about to kill him. ”

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