1. r3dfoe
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    r3dfoe Member

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    What makes a solid tragic character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by r3dfoe, Sep 24, 2013.

    I want to know opinions from everyone. Who is your favorite tragic character? Why? What made them tragic? What about them did you love so much about them?

    Just a few basic questions I've wanted to ask for awhile. Also, what do you find appealing about other characters you like whether tragic or not?

    Note: I haven't been on in a year so I wasn't sure where to post these questions. :p
     
  2. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    My favorite tragic character is Solid Snake. Giving people a tragedy that they can relate to can easily make a tragic character but the other way is generating sympathy for them. When Snake realized that his sole purpose in life was to be a soldier and fight and kill rather than live a normal healthy life
    (and later when realizes he's a walking bio-weapon that will kill pretty much everyone in proximity eventually)
    He becomes a cold hardened shell, closed off to everyone else and rejected them. You feel sorry for him more and more as he subjects himself to some of the worse atrocities because he knows it's all his life is good for and he could care less. But I loved him still because he never complained and willingly sacrificed everything to save everyone.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I found Katniss tragic, in a way. She pulls through her ordeal but she's broken in the process - she's able to lead a normal, happy life in the end but not without the shadow of her past, and she's utterly changed. She matures, but in some ways not necessarily for the better. I found her realistic, above all else, that she's fragile AND she's strong, that she keeps herself together through it all and doesn't lose herself AND yet she's broken beyond repair, but she's not a ghost of her former self but rather she's simply a new person. There's so much complexity in her character and character development, and she fights so hard, and I guess it's precisely because she has her weak moments that makes her feel stronger that by the end, you just want to see her live - finally live a good life. She gets her happy ending, but again it is a highly realistic one that's marred by scars and flashbacks and nightmares and still replaying questions and games she's had since the Games started. It's not "bitter sweet" because her happy ending is completely happy, but it is not a fairytale - there's a real sense of suffering that you just can't shake that tinges the ending a somewhat... interesting colour.

    So I don't know if you'd call her "tragic" because even that label sounds flat when I consider the sheer depth Katniss and her whole story had. She was a product of her society/world and a beaten, battered beauty who's eventually loved into loving and finds her way amidst all the pressures even from the supposedly "good" guys, a life marked by suffering and without suffering she wouldn't be half as inspirational. Is she tragic? I don't know. But when I think about her, I think about her suffering, about her voice right there at the end of book 3 and I can almost hear her sigh, and see her smile, and close her eyes to finally sleep.

    Seriously, nothing's gripped me so much in a long, loooong time. Hunger Games was something special for me. It's not often you find stunning, poetic writing beside an exciting and gripping story that also gives you tonnes of food for thought, on top of some precious characters that have such depth. For me, Hunger Games was truly the full package.
     
  4. r3dfoe
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    r3dfoe Member

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    I genuinely love both of the characters you both posted. Hunger Games also happens to be one of my favorite literary pieces. I'm not fond of simplistic writing styles or vague details - typically I read Stephen King - but somehow the blunt writing style made it all the more gripping for me.
    One of my favorite tragic characters. - in case anyone wondered - happens to be Aerith from Final Fantasy 7. I won't go into detail as most people are familiar with her. I find her beautiful in more than one way and I love her personality.
     
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  5. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I think my favorite (or at least the most) tragic character that I've read might be the monster in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. The poor guy is created as a hideous abomination. All he wanted was to be accepted by his creator, and when he couldn't have that, he asked for a companion whom he would take with him to the arctic where they'd never be seen by humanity. And yet, Dr. Frankenstein denies him both requests and leaves him angry, tormented, lonely, hated, and vengeful... He was incredibly smart and nice, but he was forsaken and rejected and forced to become the monster he appeared to be.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Now I wanna read Frankenstein!

    And I know nothing about Aerith.
     
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  7. r3dfoe
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    r3dfoe Member

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    Aerith lives in a futuristic world where a scientific corporation is draining the life force energy - known as Mako - from the planet. Shinra - the evil corporation - has created an Ancient, Sephiroth. Ancients can hear the Earth and know where the eden-like promise land is. Aerith is the last surviving, naturally born Ancient. She meets the protagonists while in need of a body guard as Shinra wants her for experimentation. Long story short, Aerith has a powerful holy crystal - known as Holy Materia - that can stop Sephiroth - who has gone mad and is using magicks to destroy the very planet they live on. In the end Aerith knows she is going to die but she rushes to the Ancient Homeland to pray to the planet for aid and to use the Holy Materia. In the middle of her praying the protagonists find her - as she ran off from them leaving few clues as to why - unfortunately they are to late as Sephiroth has found them as well. Lunging from the shadows he uses his sword the masamune and impales Aerith, killing her.
    This was the first time that a main character in a video game died. Aerith was a great tragic character. Even in death she came to aid the protagonists. She is kind, selfless, slightly flirtatious, and naive. The last 2 being her flaws.
     
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  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds like a good story. Why is being flirtatious a flaw? (I ask because I've been on the other threads currently on the forum and it's all about the objectified woman and sexism, so my brain is still thinking along those lines)
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have to agree with this; both Frankenstein and his monster were actually pretty tragic. Frankenstein didn't even start off as an evil man, but in the end, he was far more villanous to me than his monster.
     
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  10. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I suppose you're right about that. I did like Vic. in the beginning. I just found it hard to sympathize with him with how suddenly he lost his mind and compassion. But then again, had I done something so against nature, the haunting image may prove to much for me as well. I guess I'll avoid reanimating dead bodyparts lol!
     
  11. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    And you should totally read it! It's not terribly long. It has it's slow parts but it's still pretty interesting. About 1/3 of it is told right from the Monster's POV which makes it more interesting. The story just felt really complete. You could feel how the cause and effect played into certain unresolved tension and how all the characters are suffering in some way haha.
     
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  12. r3dfoe
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    The flirtatious behavior is her flaw because she uses it to get her body guard. Her guard, Cloud is childhood friends and border line romantically involved with said friend, Tifa. Tifa likes Aerith and even views Cloud and Aerith more compatible at one point and yet her jealousy keeps the complicated love triangle going.
    Aerith is very feminine where Tifa is a tomboy with a slightly alluring display of sexuality. Both of these main characters have similar POV on life and similar goals which bonds them. One of the reasons Aerith sacrificed herself was because she knew Tifa and Cloud were better suited and in the long run Aerith's very prescence was jeapordizing her friends' lives on a daily basis.
    The other issues with her flirting which also goes hand in hand with her naiivity is that she is a small town flower girl - she sells flowers which is how her and Cloud first met. She hasn't been anywhere else and is ignorant to the world outside initially, save for her first romance which occurred before the game started. Her previous love interest was murdered. She tenda to flirt at the wrong time as well which ends up getting her kidnapped more than once. Her appearance and personality literally get her ALMOST raped more than once vy sick, perverse, and very lecherous men; one being a kind of pimp.
    Another major flaw she has is her Ancient blood which eventually leads to her death. This is also her strength because she uses her spiritual power to join the lifestream - a corporeal/ethereal energy - that saves the planet. She also eventually becomes a sort of spirit guide to Cloud which saves his life more than once.


    Also, I love these posts about Frankenstein and his monster. I agree with all the posts. Classic monsters had a very deep tragedy about them but Dr. Frank's. monster has to be one of the saddest. You really feel sorry fot the poor creature and root for him even against all odds.
     
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  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    My all time favourite tragic character is Count Dracula. It's because he is wounded, because his pain made him a monster. I highly recommend the original book by Bram Stoker.

    Then Edmond Dantes from 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. He goes through such an ordeal and exacts his revenge in the most magnificent way, but he is a shell of his former self. There is a glimmer of hope at the end of the book, but barely.

    Also Milady Winter from 'The Three Musketeers'. She is villified and perhaps rightfully so, but she is an abused woman, from a time that was far from kind to women. Even now, when I read that book, there's a crucial scene in the inn when I still scream at her in my head 'Don't do it!' but she does it and she pays for it and it's so tragic.

    Then also Mr Rochester from 'Jane Eyre', Rorscach from 'Watchmen' (ok, this one is a movie) and many more.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
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  14. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    First off I'll name my favorites: Richard II, Edmond Dantes, Oedipus, Orestes, and either Othello or Hamlet - I can't pick which. I must be honest, the best type of tragic character for me is one who brings about his own peripeteia through his own flaws as a person, or in Oedipus's case his flaws as a human. This isn't a rule I guess, but it's certainly found in at least most of the best tragic characters I have came across.

    The Greek term for the fatal flaw is 'hamartia', but I don't like to use it as I don't think it is an exact word. I think the literal translation is 'error in judgement', which removes the fatalistic part of tragic stories.
     
  15. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Oh! I forgot Oedipus and Othello! They are pretty high on my list ha ha.


    And dang it, if I ever get some free time back I plan on getting back into that book. I started it over summer, but got distracted. by many other thins. Now, I'm afraid, I haven't much spare time for reading leisurely. Everyday my professors are assigning short stories and novels and such. I have to read 13 Chapters of Therese Raquin by Zola before noon on Friday >.< While also reading short stories and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight... BLAH! lol
     
  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Andrae Smith: I sympathise entirely. When I was at Uni, I might have read 5 non-course books in 6 years. And after, it took me 5 years to feel like digesting written word again, lol :D
     
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  17. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Tragic characters? They need to first be relate-able, then they have to have a believable character flaw that leads to their downfall. The flaw has to be something that is obvious to the reader, but at the same time the character is either blind to it, or unable to stop it in some way.

    I think the most obvious one here would be Gatsby in Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." Everyone loves him, but it's not really HIM that they love. They love the character he creates and eventually his hard work to become loved by all these 'fake' people ends up being his downfall.

    It's definitely something that on certain levels most can relate to, as we as humans want to be loved and admired.
     
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  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I haven't read The Great Gatsby either, but the new film on it was really, really good and I definitely loved the tragedy there.
     
  19. MsScribble
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    MsScribble Member

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    I love what you said about this character. I've only read the first book. I wanted to read the rest but I thought the outcome would be too gloomy - which shows just how involved you can get with a character when someone writes one well enough. I worried about her too much to keep reading, lol.
    When I think tragic, I think of the characters in Ang Lee films. He does heat breaking like no one else.
    But the ultimate tragic figure for me is, of course, King Kong! Poor, poor Kong.
     
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  20. BoxOfHappy
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    BoxOfHappy New Member

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    I agree with Lemex's references.

    It's easy enough for a character to be pitiful, sad, or even sympathetic--but in my opinion, to really feel a tragedy in a character, I need to be watching the character's downfall. There's that moment of 'oh no, I see where this is headed', but none of the characters do. I am sitting on the edge of my seat, desperately reading on to see what happens to this character you have made me love. I've watched it be human and make the human mistakes which are slowly, or suddenly, leading to its tragic demise. To me, a tragedy occurs when a character brings it upon itself through the best intentions. Othello, Oedipus, possibly Judas--these are characters who acted with arguably good intentions, but failed miserably. It's tragic.

    That said, I think a recognizable and great fatal flaw is pride. Even in its smallest forms, pride can drive the character forward into the mess that it would ultimately create, and the effects on itself and others would be the tragedy.

    -Boh (mobile)
     
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  21. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    You have to give them time to know and love the character first. A "tragic" character is less developed than a character who we knew so much stuff about OTHER than them dying/having flaws.
     
  22. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I think it fits one of my favorite tragic characters perfectly - Harry Morgan in Hemingway's To Have or Have Not. His error in judgment sets his life into a downward spiral of increased risk-taking just to get back to a stable situation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
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  23. jg22
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    The best tragic characters tend to make the wrong decision in the heat of the moment, either through some fault or flaw in their very nature, or through coercion to act against their nature (see: Coriolanus persuaded to make peace with Rome, leading to his assassination). Either way, they tend to be doomed from birth, and in some cases the thread of tragedy runs through a familial curse (for example, the House of Atreus in Greek Tragedy).
     
  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I do really love that book. I suppose I should expand on that point in my post a little.

    I suppose how you feel about the tragic character as a concept, and the use of the word 'hamartia' comes down to personal taste. I really like how something like Oedipus Tyrannus adds another layer to the sympathy for the hero, that is supposed to be felt by the audience, is how much you think some higher work is at play. In Oedipus it is never made exactly clear how much of what happens to the character is the result of his own actions or the actions of the fates - or if the gods are watching Oedipus at all. You can say Oedipus's crime is his arrogance, and that would be fine (I would find it an incomplete answer though) or you could say his fatal flaw is not knowing who he is, that he was the child of the king of Thebes. I find it a bit harsh on the audience to ascribe this flaw to Oedipus personally. When you examine the play from that angle you could literally write an essay of wither you think this is Oedipus's fault or not; or if it is not, how much of it is the actions of a cruel fate or a random cruelty of an unguided universe.

    Again, it's personal taste really, and I am in no way saying a character like Harry Morgan or Othello is not as effective as Oedipus, or even Macbeth now that I think about it. Aristotle used the word hamartia in his Poetics, in which the main play he comments on is Oedipus Tyrannus, but you are right, it makes much more sense when applying that term to a character like Harry Morgan whose fall can only come from an error in judgement - at least I think that is the literal translation anyway. I say all this, but I never found trace of a god in Hemingway's writing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
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  25. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @Lemex, yes, I would agree. The funny thing about Harry Morgan is that I started out having absolutely no sympathy for him at all. He really is not a likeable character. But then you come to realize he really isn't evil, either, he just needs a break. Or, to put it another way, you'd like to see him having a god or two looking out for him just once. :D

    I read Oedipus when I was 14 and was enthralled by it, but it's one of those works I really should go back and re-read from an adult perspective.
     
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