Based on Aristotle’s Poetics
The character is of (or has
achieved) noble stature and
The character should occupy a
high status position but should
also embody nobility and virtue as
part of his or her character.
Though the tragic hero is great,
he or she is not perfect.
Otherwise, we would be unable
to identify or empathize with
the tragic hero.
The hero's downfall is partially her or
his own fault.
The tragedy is usually triggered by
some error of judgment or some
character flaw known as hamartia or
Often the character's hamartia
involves hubris (arrogant pride or
The hero's misfortunate
is not wholly deserved.
exceeds the crime.
There is a point of
discovery -- some
increase in awareness or
self-knowledge on the
part of the tragic hero.
Tragedy should not leave its audience in a state
of total depression.
Aristotle argues that one function of tragedy is
to arouse the "unhealthy" emotions of pity and
fear and through a catharsis cleanse us of those
Greek drama was not considered
entertainment; it had a communal function--to
contribute to the good health of the