man, such as an ancient version of Willy Loman from Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman,” would be no more shocking or dramatic than fish going bad. However, a modern audience has a much more difficult time relating to the sanctity of the mighty. It is much easier for them to expect downfalls of their leaders and more shocking to them when they see someone more like them, a common man, fail due to his own mistaken beliefs. Thus, in modern times, Miller’s ‘low man’ Willy is the quintessential classic tragic hero of the modern age.
Although the tragic hero was a character in ancient Greek plays long before Aristotle codified the term, they all shared these same characteristics that Aristotle identified. As has been mentioned, in ancient times, these ideas were reserved for men who had the potential to reach greatness of some kind – usually men with a claim to nobility. Despite their greatness, they become destined to fail because of some tragic flaw in their character. This tragic flaw is typically, but not always, the flaw of excessive pride in one’s own abilities. No matter what the flaw is, it is always tied strongly to the reasons for their success and is therefore something the individual is justifiably proud to exercise (Aristotle, 1998). According to Zarro (2001), “the tragic effect will be stronger if the hero is ‘better than we are’, in that he is of higher than ordinary moral worth. Such a man is shown as suffering a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken act, to which he is led by his hamartia (his ‘effort of judgment’) or, as it is often literally translated, his tragic flaw.” Society has shifted since then in such a way that today, we consider the common man as having a greater chance of higher than ordinary moral worth in his dedication to making an honest living for modest goals. Today’s tragic hero cycle focuses more on the three events than the noble status. The social