Aristotle's Tragic Terms - Ohio University
ARISTOTLE & THE ELEMENTS OF TRAGEDY: English 250
...: A Tragic Hero In William Shakespeare’s play, , is a tragic hero according to Aristotle’s definition. His downfall is triggered by a character flaw; he has a choice to act or not to act and he is responsible for his own...
Tragic hero as defined by Aristotle
Hamlet brings about his own downfall in the end, but knows that it will be coming. "Go to their graves like beds." (IV, v, 62) He was not punished in his death as Aristotle's fourth element would require. Aristotle explains that Hamlet's punishment must exceed that of his tragic flaw. Hamlet is not a tragic hero according to Aristotle because the death of a lying trickster who spent his days manipulating people to believe what ever he wished would out weighed the death of a man who died with a forgiven soul. Polonius died because he was a liar, but Hamlet died a cleansed and forgiven man. Aristotle would have said that Hamlet should have died a much worse death than Polonius, but it did not happen that way. This lack of element leads one to believe that Hamlet was not a tragic hero.