The definition of tragedy in Webster’s dictionary is, “drama of elevated theme and diction and with unhappy ending; sad event, serious accident, calamity.” However, the application of this terminology in Shakespearean Tragedy is more expressive. Tragedy does not only mean death or calamity, but in fact, it refers to a series of steps that leads to the downfall of the tragic hero and eventually to his tragic death. Lear, the main character in King Lear was affirmed as the tragic hero because the play meets all the requirements of a tragedy. In order for a character to be qualified as a tragic hero, he must be in a high status on the social chain and the hero also possesses a tragic flaw that initiates the tragedy. The fall of the hero is not felt by him alone but creates a chain reaction that affects everyone around him. The hero should experience suffering and calamity gradually so that it may contrast his happier times. Finally, the audience must also pity the tragic hero.
Lear, the king of England would be the tragic hero because he held the highest position in the social chain at the very beginning of the play. His social position gave him pride as he remarked himself as “Jupiter” and “Apollo”. Lear out of pride and anger has banished Cordelia and Kent and divided his Kingdom in halves to Goneril and Regan. Lear’s hamartia which is his obstinate pride and anger overrides his judgment, thus, prevents him to see the true faces of people. As in Act One, although Cordelia said “nothing”, she really means everything she loves to his father. However, Lear only believe…
…d you can sink to the very bottom just as fast as Lear fell from the top of the chain to the lowest.
In Shakespeare’s tragic play King Lear, Lear the main character demonstrated all the necessary requirements of being a tragic hero. His high social status nourishes his hamartia which is hubris, and the tragedy is initiated by the banishment of Kent and Cordelia. Lear’s pride not only altered his live alone, instead, it affected everyone around him down to the bottom of the social chain. Moreover, the realization of his true quality, pains and sufferings eventually leads to his tragic death which the most obvious element in a tragedy. Because Lear fulfills the “formula” of Shakespearean Tragedy, he could be firmly proven as tragic hero in the play.