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All My Sons ∙ Using the Greek concept of the tragic hero, discuss whether Joe Keller can be described in such terms. The definition of a tragic hero is a protagonist who is otherwise perfect except for a tragic flaw

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Introduction

Kate Lally All My Sons � Using the Greek concept of the tragic hero, discuss whether Joe Keller can be described in such terms. The definition of a tragic hero is a protagonist who is otherwise perfect except for a tragic flaw (otherwise known as a fatal flaw), that will eventually lead to his demise. This concept derived from Ancient Greek tragedies and is defined by Aristotle. An aristotelian tragic hero must have four characteristics: goodness, superiority, a tragic flaw, and the realisation of both his flaw and predestined downfall. Usually the realisation of the tragic flaw results in death, so that the moral balance of the situation can be restored. Also, the typical tragic hero is usually an 'ordinary' person, someone that many members of the audience can relate to, and therefore compare their moralities with. Joe Keller fits this description well and therefore many people would be able to relate to him. Throughout the play, it is ambiguous to the audience whether or not Joe Keller is guilty, and therefore the audience finds it difficult to obtain a clear impression of him, and consequently his nature. ...read more.

Middle

I ought to tear the tongue out of your mouth, what must I do?'. This shows the hatred he feels towards his father, resulting in Joe's realisation of the extremity of what he has done. There are also a few minor characters that exist purely to show the audience things about other characters. For example, Lydia, Sue and Frank. The significance of these characters is that we learn of the natures of the major characters, and the actions that happened before the opening of the play. One of the most significant characters in the entire play, although his importance may not even be realised by most members of the audience, is Jim Bayliss. He is a very wise man, and his philosophical views portray the actions and occurences of the play directly to Kate, and the audience, in an unbiased way, and his speech at the end of the play has great importance. 'Oh no he'll come back. We all come back, Kate. These private little revolutions always die. The compromise is always made. ...read more.

Conclusion

This superiority may even have been the cause of his downfall, the reason he told Steve to transport the broken aeroplane parts, as he believed himself and his own decisions to be correct. As well as this, he has an obvious tragic flaw. He sells aeroplane parts that he knows are faulty, and could well result in the planes that use them to crash. He does this because if he doesn't sell them he will lose his contract with the aeroplane company and, consequently, a lot of money. To avoid imprisonment when the planes crash, and twenty-one men die, he decides to blame his employee for this and therefore escapes punishment. His son, Larry, disappears around the time these aeroplane parts are released. Therefore, he assumes Larry was flying one of these planes and has crashed. His wife, Kate, firmly holds onto the belief that Larry is still alive because, she believes, that if Larry is dead, her husband killed him. Finally, he realises that he has done wrong. Chris shows him the error of his ways, and the immensity of the offence he has committed. Upon realising this, he takes his own life. Therefore, the moral balance has been restored. ...read more.

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