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In Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan, one of the main characters in the story, exhibits all the qualities of a tragic hero.

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Introduction

Aristotle's tragic hero has certain characteristics which can be applied to Oedipus the King and Milton's Satan. Aristotle states that a tragic hero can be classified as a person that falls from the state of being happy to one of misery because of his own mistake. This can be seen in both Oedipus and Satan, since they are miserable as a result of their own doing. According to Aristotle, the tragic hero must fall through his or her own error, or hamartia. This term is also interpreted as "tragic flaw", usually applied to overwhelming pride, or hubris, which causes fatal error. Satan and Oedipus show that they have hubris and this is probably one of the main contributing factors for their fall. Although, the main characteristic of the tragic hero, as stated by Aristotle, is their ability to make the reader or audience to empathize with them, he wants there to be a sense of fear and mistrust because of their devious nature. In Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan, one of the main characters in the story, exhibits all the qualities of a tragic hero. He has fallen, literally and figuratively, from grace. Once one of God's more powerful angels in heaven, Satan questions God's power and forms an alliance to overthrow Him. Satan's army fights diligently only to have God "...cast him out from Heaven, With all his host of rebel angels..." ...read more.

Middle

"Is there no place left for repentance, none for pardon left?" (Book IV, Line 79-80) As Satan contemplates repentance, he decides against it, as he is afraid of the shame that he might draw from his followers, "My dread of shame Among the Spirits beneath, Whom I seduced with other promises Boasting I could subdue The Omnipotent". (Line 83-86) Since he has boasted that he can defeat God, Satan now shows fear and doubt as he realises that he really cannot fulfill his promises. Milton reveals a different side to Satan. He depicts a character that shows remorse and shame, and, someone who fears disgrace. The common person can identify with these human characteristics; this allows the reader to evoke some amount of sympathy for Satan as they now see him in a helpless situation; fighting a losing battle for fear of disgracing his followers. This emphasizes Aristotle's description of recognising "...similar possibilities of error in our less and fallible selves." In Oedipus the King, Oedipus is the tragic hero and fits Aristotle's description almost exactly. Aristotle states that a character should reveal goodness in terms of moral judgment and choices that he makes. Oedipus has compassion for his subjects and seeks the truth to end their suffering, and, continuously strives to be a saviour to the people. ...read more.

Conclusion

When approached by the priests, Oedipus could only promise them his help, which starts the chain of events, eventually leading him to discover his sins and his subsequent downfall. When Oedipus solves the riddle of the Sphinx, he could not have known that he would end up marrying his own mother. When Oedipus meets King Laius, he is unaware as to who killed his father. Eventually, he sets out to find the truth, as the oracle prophesizes. He does the best he could as a ruler, son and husband but is still played out in the end. Therefore, Oedipus is seen as a tragic hero and is comparable to Satan who also has no freewill. The fate or God knew that the actions were going to occur and had the power to stop it. Satan and Oedipus are tragic heroes according to Aristotle. They have characteristics that make them suite their role as a tragic hero. Aristotle said that tragic heroes should suffer a fall of fortune through a mistake of their own. Both Satan and Oedipus suffer this fate. Aristotle also states that a tragic hero will is led by hamartia which is hubris. "Till pride and worse ambition threw me down" (Milton) this line was spoken by Satan who openly admits that he is proud and ambitious. "Twit me with that wherein my greatness lies" Milton, John. Paradise Lost Sophocles. Oedipus The King http://www.planetpapers.com/Assets/3330.php ...read more.

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