I am a big fan of the tragic hero.
For those who are unfamiliar, a tragic hero is a central figure in a story who, despite his best efforts and intentions, fails miserably. Think Oedipus. Hamlet is perhaps my favorite example from literature, even though it could be argued that through vengeance he succeeds in achieving his goals to a certain extent.
The point of tragic hero stories is similar to my point in an earlier post, On Noble Defeat: important lessons can often be learned through defeat. Hollywood-style stories where the hero always wins are not realistic. Heroes, or those who wish to be heroes, often lose. Sometimes they win, but the result turns out to be different from what they expected. Other times there is no win-lose binary to speak of.
I personally feel that stories involving defeat or misadventure are far more interesting. Perhaps the first classic example is Don Quixote. Why do we always need to admire the protagonist? Isn’t it more fun to laugh at him or feel better about ourselves that we are not in such a pitiable situation: that we can, for example, distinguish between a giant and a windmill? The story of Oedipus, for example, is so horrible that the reader cannot help but feel relieved that it is fiction. There are few things worse than finding out that you unknowingly murdered your father and conceived children with your mother.
The key to dealing with your own personal tragic hero adventure is finding the underlying meaning. It would be hard to find any meaning in life if every endeavor led to success. This would be heaven, and the only meaning of heaven is that you ‘passed the test of life’ (so to speak). Heaven is a reward for overcoming the many pitfalls of the harsh reality you must face before getting there. Of course, assuming that heaven does not exist, the real necessity is accepting (and enjoying) life for what it is.
It would logically follow that even defeat must be accepted and, perhaps, enjoyed—enjoyed in the same way the reader enjoys Oedipus’s grandiose displays of suffering, Hamlet’s epic existential crisis (“to be or not to be?”), or Don Quixote’s blind commitment to self-degradation. These are just as much a part of the human condition as any depiction of success or happiness. Life would be incomplete without them.
Originally published on https://writingonthewall275.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/tragic-hero/
Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:
Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.
Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:
- Get access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
- Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
- View the website with no ads
- Get free access to classes, workshops, and exclusive events
- Be invited to an exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” with other Premium Members
- Commenting badge.
Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.
If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.
Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:
Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here:
Join our exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” — where community members are encouraged to discuss the issues of the week, get story ideas, meet other members and get known for their ideas? To get the call-in information, either join as a member or wait until you get a post published with us. Here are some examples of what we talk about on the calls.
Want to learn practical skills about how to be a better Writer, Editor or Platform Builder? Want to be a Rising Star in Media? Want to learn how to Create Social Change? We have classes in all of those areas.
While you’re at it, get connected with our social media:
However, you engage with The Good Men Project—you can help lead this conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Join us!
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
Shutterstock ID: 493900036