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A.C Bradley’s Definition of Tragic Hero Essay

A famous Shakespearean scholar, Andrew Cecil Bradley, who was born in England, in 1851, wrote a book called The Shakespearean Tragedy (1904). This book is recognized as a classic Shakespearean criticism, which presents a psychological analysis of Shakespeare’s characters. The Article, The Shakespearean Tragic Hero (p.687-691) explains Bradley’s definition of tragedy and tragic hero.

According to Bradley, the tragic hero must be of a person of high degree or of public importance with exceptional nature, which raises person, in some respect much above the average level of humanity. This trait will acts as double-edged sword as it is his greatness but also his fatality. The fatal trait, joining with hero’s tragic flaw or flawed act, brings catastrophe; that is, his downfall and ultimately his death. The tragic hero must be good or admirable, or at least recognized by person’s high degree or greatness; so we may be vividly conscious of the possibilities of human nature.

Tragedy builds, as hero endures calamity and faces fate. The hero’s fate is determined by the existence of moral order. Therefore, to restore the mortal order in a tragic world, one must go through struggle between good and evil. According to Bradley, the tragic hero with Shakespeare is generally good and therefore at once wins sympathy in his error; but the hero’s imperfection or defects are considered evil and they contribute to the conflict and catastrophe. When the evil in him masters the good and has its way, it destroys other people and ultimately destroys him. The pity and fear, which are stirred by the tragic story, unites with profound sense of sadness and mystery gives impression of waste, and this impression of waste makes us realize the worth of that is wasted.

Thus, Bradley ends with the conclusion, that the inexplicable fact or appearance of a world travailing for perfection, which brings birth to glorious goods and evil that is only able to overcome only by self-torture and self-waste is tragedy.

Work Cite

Bradley, Andrew Cecil, et al. Viewpoints 12. Toronto, ON: Prentice Hall, 2002, Print

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