Tragedy, is an element, which is incorporated in many pieces of literature to generate interest and diversity for the reader. "Tragedy, a serious play or drama typically dealing with the problems of a central character, leading to an unhappy or disastrous ending brought on, as in ancient drama, by fate and a tragic flaw in this character, or, in modern drama, usually by moral weakness" (World, 1418).
TragedyÃ¢ÂÂ¦ is an imitation not only of a complete action, but also of incidents arousing pity and fear. Such incidents hace the very greatest effect on the mind when they occur unexpectedly and at the same time in consequence of one another; there is more of the marvelous in them then than if they happened of themselves or by mere chance (Sense, 12).
In Macbeth, Carrie and in the Blood of the Martyrs, discovery of tragedy is basically shot into your face. Tragedy in these three cases being very apparent thus makes analyzing these pieces of literature to retrieve the protagonist's tragic flaws, which leads to their downfall more simplistic.
Macbeth, a play by William Shakespeare, contains such an excellent example of a protagonist with a tragic flaw, which leads to his own downfall. "Superficially, Macbeth seems to return to a more conventional mode, and on one level it is much more straightforwardly a play about an ambitious prince who overreaches himself in murdering the king, and who brings about his own downfall in the end" (Focus, 8). Macbeth being so ambitious tries to become king by killing the king Duncan himself. He is so driven by his wife and by the witches that he eventually does not let anything stand in his way and proceeds to overtake the throne.
There is a very fine distinction to be made in the initial presentation of Macbeth, in his first response to the prophecies of the witches. The question is wether or no they are playing upon a mind that has already considered and half-formulated desperate and ambitious designs. The tendency of late, in criticism as upon the stage, has been to accept this preparation of Macbeth's mind and nature for temptation. Such an interpretation is in harmony with conception of tragedy as the outcome of a tragic flaw in character, the flaw here being his ambition (Justice, 12). 1 As stated Macbeth's flaw is his ambition, he is so upbeat due to the fact that he is now the king and because the witches told him "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/ Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/ Shall come against him" (Macbeth, IV, i 92-94).
Therefore Macbeth doesn't believe he can lose his titles or be killed. Hence he continues with no thought of danger in his mind and this, eventually leads up to his unfortunate and tragic death.
Clifford Davidson discusses Macbeth as tragedy, not according to Aristotle's definition, but according to the cultural and religious beliefs of Shakespeare's time. Davidson argues that hypocrisy is Macbeth's sin, which deprives him of sensitivity and makes him a tyrant guilty of great wrongs. Rather than feeling pity and goodwill for the protagonist at the end, the alienated audience judges Macbeth and regrets only that he has lost all goodness (Readings, 91).
Macbeth's ambition and hypocrisy are a combination of two tragic flaws that leads him, the protagonist, to his own death in the end.
Carrie, a science-fiction novel, is another great example of a protagonist with a tragic flaw, which leads to her own downfall in the end. Carrie, is about a highschool girl named Carrie who is continuously teased by her peers and develops telekinetic powers.
One of her classmates, Susan gets her boyfriend Tommy Ross the school's stud to ask Carrie to the spring ball. Susan does this as an attempt of repaying Carrie for all the nasty things she has done to her throughout their adolescence.
If you don't have a date for the Ball, would you want to go with me?" Tommy asked Carrie. "No," she said, and in her sudden pensiveness she could have been mistaken for beautiful. "It will be a nightmare." "Will you?" "Yes," she said with angry helplessness. "You knew I would" (Carrie, 87).
Carrie's tragic flaws here shows naivete and compulsivness, thinking after all of these years of tormenting she suddenly became popular. She goes to the ball with Tommy toward the end of the novel and she gets humiliated in front of the entire school as she is covered in fresh pig's blood. She cracks and flips out and uses her telekinetic powers to collapse the entire gym and kill everyone but herself. Escaping she goes back home and lashes out again and kills herself along with her own mother. In this science-fiction tale, Carrie's tragic flaw is her naivete, which leads her to her own death in the end.
The Blood of the Martyrs, is a short story that brings out, once again a protagonist with a tragic flaw, which leads to his own downfall in the end. Professor Malziuz a old scientist, is taken away from his lab and tormented as a prisoner by the General and the Dictator who were seeking information about his colleagues and friends. Malziuz continuously demands to return to his research and does not give any of his peers up. Malziuz's persistence is frustrating the General and the Dictator by not wanting to help them and this eventually comes down to a last chance for Malziuz. They want Malziuz to sign papers, so he can do research to prove that woman must bear soldiers, along with other idiotic things. Malziuz being a Martyr, takes the inkwell that he was suppose to use to sign the papers and throws it in the Dictator's face. The Dictator shocked and frustrated tells the guards to take the professor out back and to kill him. "A schoolboy covered with ink," he muttered through his lost teeth. "A hysterical schoolboy too. But you cannot kill truth." They were not good last words, and he knew that they were not (Arch, 227). Malziuz was tragically killed due to his persistence to protect others and also because of his strength to stand for what he believed in.
Macbeth, Carrie and The Blood of the Martyrs demonstrate the utmost greatest examples of tragedy. In this case, the main focus here being the protagonists, we get a chance to really see how these three protagonists are so different in ways and yet so similar in others. When comparing Macbeth's feats and image to the other protagonists, nothing is really identical. Carrie, being the laughing stock of her school and Malziuz, an old man isolated from society make them very different. However after analyzing them on a basis of their tragic flaws we come to notice that their drive is one thing that links them all together. Unity in the making, by fabricating such dynamic situations we come to realize that its not the persons identity that counts but their inner attributes. Macbeth, Carrie and Gregor Malziuz, all fail due to similarities in their tragic flaws even though they are not similar people at all. Conclusively we notice that all protagonists in tragedy, have tragic flaws which leads them to their own downfall in the end.