Our Tragic Hero

February 14, 2017

 

Rey Rey and her fall from the Mother of the House of Light create a modern tragic hero. A tragic hero can be determined based on whether or not they prescribe to heroic code, which is the catalyst for their problems. As Elizabeth Bobrick in “Sophocles’ Antigone and the Self-Isolation of the Tragic Hero,” she writes, “The heroic code may be summarized as follows: I protect my philoi - a term that includes family, kin, loved ones, and loyal community members — and they honor me. To hate my friend is to hate me. To help my enemy is to harm me. Being dishonored by my philoi is the equivalent of death. I will either kill them or myself, or both.”

 

This strict of an adherence to the heroic code destroys communities, especially when there is a conflict with their philoi. For example, Creon and Antigone in Antigone both cause each other’s destruction because of their allegiances to conflicting philoi.

 

The destruction of the community by the tragic hero is ultimately caused but their need to isolate themselves. As Bobrick writes, “More than anything, self-isolation from a sense of having to do the right thing is the characteristic of a tragic hero. Doing the right thing usually satisfies the hero’s sense of honor, but tends to destroy his or her philoi.” The more that a tragic hero struggles to do the right thing for their community, the more isolated they become from this community.

 

The ultimate downfall of the tragic hero is brought on by their hamartia, which is not the tragic flaw as it is been mistakenly interpreted. Instead, hamartia means to make some error. The tragic character makes some error in their actions which leads to their eventual downfall. It is not a defect of character, as tragic flaw implies, but rather, it is action based.


Bobrick writes, “They [tragic heroes] think that the rules do not apply to them; they justify their actions by special privilege of being in on the right side of authority; and they think completely selfishly. They are full of hubris.” Hubris is the failure to realize that social customs, rules, and laws apply to you.

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