25th October 2018

Significant Connections 3.7

Compares each characters fatal flaw (flaw or error in judgement) –  hamartia


BP 1: Great Gatsby

BP 2: Citizen Kane

BP 3: King Lear

Come not between the dragon and his wrath – sees himself as dragon and having a huge wrath of powerful anger – shows excessive pride from his mythical power. 

BP 4: Gladiator


Tragedy emits catharsis, emotional cleansing – catharsis to make us better people, reflect on our own lives, offers us clarity, gives us perspectives

By understanding the significant connections across various tragedy based texts, we are able to understand how elements of tragic heroes influence our feelings and emotions. The genre of tragedy has evolved from Aristotelean literature, and follows the path of a character that makes a judgement or error which ultimately results in his/her own destruction. Aristotle has created five defining characteristics that the character must endure to become a tragic hero, and in turn will evoke a purification of emotions in the audience. Tragedy based texts including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane”, Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, and Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator”, show us the effects of catharsis emitted from each tragic heroes fatal flaw and error in judgement, one of Aristotle’s tragic characteristics.

The concept of catharsis within an audience in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” is developed through the literary character Jay Gatsby, who finds himself engaged in a constant struggle with his dreams to risk everything in pursuit of love. Gatsby is presented as a wealthy man, pursuing the American dream to its fullest. His obsession with Daisy is portrayed to over rule his life with made up aspirations and dreams to win her love. The convention of tragedy is introduced through Gatsby’s fatal flaw, classifying him as a tragic hero. Gatsby serves to be a self made millionaire, who’s foolish priorities drive him towards a fate greater than deserved. His tragic hero characteristic of hamartia consists of many qualities, which are communicated through his need to be with Daisy and are clouded by his naivety to relive the past.  His obsession with wealth and money since growing up poor as a farm boy pushes him to a life full of consumption. Gatsby’s blind love for Daisy ultimately drives him to protect her for the consequences that she deserves. He seems to be hoping for an American dream that is a lie. It is Gatsby’s devotion to Daisy that leads to his own death. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us”. Fitzgerald’s symbol of the Green light signifies Gatsby’s hope for a future with Daisy which year by year becomes more of an illusion than a reality. Gatsby’s hopes and dreams of Daisy are closely associated with the American dream, a belief that any American can attain their own version of success achieved through risk taking and hard work. What Gatsby fails to realise is that the American dream is nothing but a dream. Fitzgerald has employed Gatsby as a tragic hero to portray the corruption of the American dream through his fatal flaw of falling in love with the idea of Daisy. It is when he dedicates his life to becoming a man with wealth and a high social status that he displays this flaw. “There must have been moments when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams, not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, no amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man can store in his ghostly heart”. Gatsby’s illusion of his dreams were beyond reality, yet it was his blindness to reality that evoked his hamartia. There was nothing that would change Gatsby’s realisation of passion for his fake dreams. Through Gatsby’s misfortune of believing in a dream that would never come true, we feel concepts of catharsis for his greater than deserved fate. The emotional indulgence that the audience gains from Gatsby’s hamartia delves into our sense of pity. We feel as though Gatsby’s fate is unfair from taking the blame for killing Murtle when it was actually Daisy’s fault. Gatsby’s mistake of 

It is difficult to clarify a person’s life once that life has ended, as seen in Orson Welles’s ‘Citizen Kane’. 

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Briar,

    You still have a lot of writing to do in our final periods of this assessment.

    You have made some strong observations about Gatsby as a tragic hero. Be sure to link back to the purpose of the tragic hero which you established in your introduction: catharsis. What emotional indulgence does the audience receive from Gatsby? How are they cleansed?

    Mrs. P


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