Tragedy: Four Literary Heroes

A look at the tragic heroes in “Macbeth”, “Death of a Salesman”, “The Metamorphosis” and “The Stranger”.

This paper defines the classic Aristotelian form of tragedy and explains the four elements needed for a character to be truly tragic. The paper examines the tragic characters in “Macbeth”, “Death of a Salesman”, “The Metamorphosis” and “The Stranger” and notes that “Macbeth” and “Death of a Salesman” follow the recipe for Greek tragedy in more elements than “The Stranger” and “The Metamorphosis”.
“The word Tragedy gives one a singular vision of a form of story telling that “has remained relatively consistent throughout the ages and that can be attributed to Aristotle” (Kelly):”Tragedy,” he says in a now-famous definition, “is an imitation of an action is serious, complete in itself, and of a certain magnitude, in language embellished with every kind of artistic ornament which is to be found separately in the different parts of the play; in a dramatic not a narrative form; through pity and fear bringing about the purgation (katharsis) of these emotions”(Kelly).
“While there are many elements to a tragedy and many arguments as to what these are there are a few that will be examined for our purposes here. A tragedy must have a plot –a series of ordered events: a beginning, middle and end. A tragedy must have thought and universal truth. The tragedy must be serious, arousing pity and or fear in the audience. The character in the tragedy must be basically good and experience a reversal of fortune that makes him bad. The hero must have four things to truly make him a tragic character.”