The Purgation of the Hero in Shakespearean Tragedy

Animus 3:3-29 (1998)

Abstract
This paper seeks to show that the career of the hero in the great Shakespearean tragedies defines the nature of human individuality. First, the hero, either a king or other high official of state, attempts to make his honor, ambition, love, or like passion the measure of the Commonwealth and the communities that fall within it. Then, the failure of this attempt shows the nullity of the hero's particularity in itself, and the dependence of all finite subjects on an absolute Good. The hero then takes one of two paths. Like Hamlet or Lear, he rediscovers his individuality by affirming the instantiations of that Good, the ethical institutions of family and state, and then in death rising to the Good. Macbeth and Othello follow a contrary path: unable to live in these institutions, they suffer utter destruction in death
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