Monday, 13 April 2015


Hamartia: According to Aristotle, downfall of the hero “is not due to any moral defect or depravity, but to an error of some kind”. In this context, Aristotle uses the word “hamartia” which is often loosely interpreted as “tragic flaw”, as it has been done by Bradely. But Butcher, Bywater and Rostangi all agree that “Hamartia” is not associated with moral state. Instead, it is an error of judgement which a man commits. Humphrey House observes that Aristotle does not assert or deny anything about the connection of “hamartia” with moral failing in the hero: “It may be accompanied by moral imperfection, but it is not itself a moral imperfection, and in the purest tragic the suffering hero is not morally to blame”. Hamartia, an error of judgement, may arise from three following ways. Firstly, it may arise from “ignorance of material fact or circumstance”. Secondly, it may be an error arising from hasty or careless view of the special case. Thirdly, it may be an error voluntary but not deliberate, as in the case of acts committed in anger or passion. In King Oedipus, Butcher says, “his (Aristotle) conception of hamartia includes all the three meanings above, which in English cannot be covered by single term.” Therefore “hamartia” is not a moral imperfection. It may be accompanied with moral fault. It is an error of judgement arising from ignorance of some material circumstance or from rashness and impulsiveness.

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