What is Hamartia? Meaning | Definition | Example

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Introduction:

     Tragedy is primarily concerned with a fall that leads to suffering and destruction on the part of the tragic hero. In chapter 13 of The Poetics Aristotle points out that the meaning of Hamartia an error of judgement, a kind of 'fatal flaw' which shapes the tragic destiny of the tragic heroes. The source of the word Hamartia always explain the tragic injustice on the part of the tragic Hero which ultimately leads his downfall.

The classic Hamartia instance is where a hero wishes to acquire a kind but while executing, he yield an error, and conclude exactly with the opposite catastrophic results. Reversal of fortune is what we can termed to such kind of downward movement of a heroic character.
Hamartia

Meaning of Hamartia in Literary terms :

      Hamartia is a literary instrument that reflects a disposition of characters trail toward tragic flaw or fatal flaw and error in judgment, that finally leads to diminution of heroism. Aristotle's Poetics coins the term of frailty that fetch the misfortune for a tragic hero. In the notion dramatic tragedy Hamartia, is closely associate with the exchangeable term 'tragic flaw', as both illustrate the downfall of a protagonist in tragedy.

Hamartia first coined by Greek dramatist Aristotle :

      The Elizabethans have immensely enriched the Greek tragic form both in their adherence to dramatic form and in the liberties they have taken from the rigorous discipline of the Greek dramatic art. The Elizabethan tragic protagonist is an Aristotelian hero, usually of a noble birth, blessed with outstanding qualities but suffers from a serious tragic flaw or hamartia in his character that sets the play in motion. The Chorus plays the introductory and summative function as in Greek Drama. Plot is a major element as in a Greek Drama using the devices of Peripeteia and Anagnorisis. The interest of the audience is sustained by the spectacular action and dramatic irony whereby the audience knows the predicament of the protagonist that the latter fails to understand. The plot leads the protagonist to a tragic recognition of his weakness while the audience gains a cathartic experience of the feelings evoked in the course of the play.

In his Poetics Aristotle defines the tragic flaw or Hamartia of tragic hero :

      There remains, then, the intermediate kind of personage, a man not pre-eminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error of judgement. The perfect plot, accordingly, must have a single, and not a double issue; the change in the hero's fortune must be not from misery to happiness but on the contrary from happiness to misery; and the cause of it must lie not in any depravity, but in some great error on his part.

Aristotle defines tragedy as :

      The imitation of action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself, in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions.

      Shakespearean tragedy responds to the definition of an Aristotelian tragedy in more ways than one though there are elements which are typically Shakespearean. In a Shakespearean tragedy the accent is on human responsibility rather on supernatural intervention, chance, fate or any other extra-human factor. The fate, destiny, the "written," too, plays a role but in the ultimate analysis it is the protagonist's own actions that bring about his 'tragic fall'. Tragic flaw that brings about the tragic end to the total human endeavour is his failure to act; or act fast enough; or act as a result of premeditation: and reflection rather impulsive aggression.

Fall of Protagonist :

      In a tragedy protagonist’s personal error on there personality is called Hamartia, that which lead toward the heroic downward movement to tragic end. The term envelops deed which is unworthy kind regard of a hero. The classic Hamartia instance is where a hero wishes to acquire a kind but while executing, he yield an error, and conclude exactly with the opposite catastrophic results. Reversal of fortune is what we can termed to such kind of downward movement of a heroic character.

Examples of Hamartia in tragedy :

     In the history of drama there are found innumerable instances of tragic heroes having some vital kind of errors or misjudgement committed by the tragic heroes. Sophocles's king of king of Oedipus was impulsive and hasty by nature having a strong ego that, ultimately proved fatal to him. King Lear had misunderstood his youngest daughter which was his Hamartia. Othello has too much belief on the insinuation of Iago which forced him to kill the most chaste Desdemona, which was Othello's Hamartia. Dr Faustus practiced magic which ultimately dragged his sole to hell. And finally "Macbeth's over dependence on the prophecies on the witches ultimately proved his vital Hamartia or an error committed on the part of the noble Prince."

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