HUBRIS AS A SELF DESTRUCTIVE FORCE – EXAMPLES IN ENGLISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURE
Keywords:Hubris, Pride, Literature, Tragic heroes
As one of the major elements of a tragedy, the tragic hero is a very complex world in itself. Tragic hero is the protagonist of the play, who ends tragically as a result of his/her own error or mistake. This error is known as Hamartia, and it was first used by Aristotle in his Poetics. Very often, the greatest fault is the pride, or better to say, the excessive pride of the hero, or Hubris. It is very important, because it is this error or mistake that helps the development of the plot and the downfall of the hero; that makes the hero get deep into suffering and troubles. Some of the greatest examples of Hubris in English and American literature will be presented in this paper, covering examples from different periods and movements in literature. For example, characters that exhibit hubris are, Beowulf, Ahab in Moby Dick, Dr. Faustus, King Lear, Jay Gatsby, Santiago in Old Man and the Sea, etc.
Presented as great characters, protagonists, these characters are adorned with the excessive pride or Hubris which becomes an obstacle on their way to happiness. The way hubris takes these characters towards their downfall, and the consequences of their pride – the suffering, losing the power, hurting others around them, death- will be analyzed in this paper.
Ahab in Moby Dick’s pride is self-destructive because his ego, and not only his leg is hurt by the whale, and he is determined to kill it. Faustus’ excessive pride makes him forget the end of the contract with the devil; Fed by the flattering words of Goneril and Reagan, King Lear’s pride doesn’t let him see the real and honest love of Cordelia; Pride makes Gatsby think only of Daisy and how to regain her, forgetting his own life, etc. However, in the case of Santiago we see that if one endures the sufferings and difficulties of life, pride can destroy but not defeat
As it is seen, this paper gives a reflection and an overview of how much hubris is presented in English written literature and the importance it has for the development of the story. However, the most important thing is to see the self-destructive power of excessive pride, how it leads these heroes towards their downfall, and eventually to their tragic end.
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