Essay Example on Literary theory Poetics Greek philosopher Aristotle









In his early work on literary theory Poetics Greek philosopher Aristotle discusses the aspects of tragedy According to the scholar literary works in which the protagonist is a tragic hero are characterized as tragedies and include a hero who confronts his downfall by means of destiny some social reason or by virtue of his own error https literary devices net tragic hero A tragic hero according to Aristotle possesses the following fundamental qualities hamartia hubris peripeteia anagnorisis nemesis and catharsis Hamartia is a tragic flaw that leads to the downfall of a hero hubris is the characteristic of excessive pride peripeteia is a reversal of fate anagnorisis refers to an important revelation made by a protagonist nemesis is an unavoidable punishment brought on by hubris and catharsis is a feeling of pity or fear that is evoked from the audience Such Aristotelian concepts can be applied to the poem Beowulf to reveal the protagonist's tragic flaws By showing that Beowulf's character possesses the qualities of a tragic hero the fact that the poem is a tragedy will simultaneously be proven First the hero s hamartia lies in his hubris In other words Beowulf's tragic flaw comes from his excessive pride or arrogance which ultimately leads to his downfall This is explicitly shown in the text when Beowulf engages in combat with the dragon when he mistakenly thinks that he does not need a large army to defend him throughout the fight Because of the hubris that the tragic hero possesses he fails to take the advice of King Hrothgar and ultimately loses his life The protagonist s hubris and fatal flaw present themselves in the following passage yet the prince of the rings was too proud to line up with a large army against the sky plague 

He had scant regard for the dragon as a threat no dread at all of its courage or strength for he had kept going often in the past through perils and ordeals of every sort after he has purged Hrothgar's hall triumphed in Heorot and beaten Grendel Had Beowulf not been so consumed by his own excessive pride and narcissism perhaps he would have taken Hrothgar's advice to accept help in fighting the dragon and survived the battle continuing on to defeat more evil beings Peripeteia is essentially some reversal of fortune where the tragic hero realizes some fact about his own situation and is often brought on by his tragic flaw As mentioned above his tragic flaw of being excessively narcissistic leads to his death which was brought on by the dragon and can be seen as a reversal in fortune experienced by Beowulf Within this same scene anagnorisis is exemplified when the protagonist realizes that his opponent the dragon is too strong to fight off on his own Beowulf states the following I risked my life often when I was young Now I am old but as king of the people I shall pursue this fight for the glory of winning if the evil one will only abandon his earth fort and face me in the open Here the tragic hero s self realization or sudden awareness is displayed as he realizes how reliant his people are on him Lastly in Beowulf's encounter with the dragon nemesis and catharsis or the fortune that Beowulf cannot avoid due to his hubris and the feelings of fear and pity evoked from the audience for his downfall are shown respectively First nemesis comes from the fact that Beowulf cannot avoid his death due to the fact that he was far too narcissistic to allow others to help him in fighting the dragon 

Next the element of pity comes from the fact that audience members feel for Beowulf when he dies without a successor and the fear for his character comes from his struggles throughout this battle which causes the audience to fear for his death In conclusion Beowulf can be considered a tragedy because all of the elements that define a tragic hero are present within the protagonist s character To be more specific Beowulf possesses excessive pride which is his hubris which leads to his decision to battle the dragon without the help of others making his hamartia His anagnorisis or realization that the enemy is far too strong to defeat and is fatally injured leads to catharsis or feelings of fear and pity evoked from the audience His death also shows his peripeteia and nemesis as it demonstrates a reversal of his fortune and acts as a punishment that Beowulf cannot avoid and results from his hubris Hrothgar's sermon lead to this understanding because within his speech he warns Beowulf of the repercussions that often accompany fame discusses the temptations of hubris and reminds the tragic hero that happiness is often followed with sadness The king is essentially warning Beowulf and in doing so foreshadows his downfall as shown in the line For a brief while your strength is in bloom but fades quickly Sources literarydevices net

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