No Good Friday by Athol Fugard, Can Willie be viewed as a tragic hero or a tragic figure?

Essay by vybzdanielleCollege, UndergraduateB+, December 2007

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In the play No Good Friday, the main character is Willie Seopolo, the scholar in the township. He has realized that although he is educated, he will be unable to advance socially and economically because of the colour of his skin. His dreams and hopes fade away as he realizes that they now mean nothing, it was a waste of time to dream in the first place. There is no social mobility and the blacks have no rights. He refuses to adopt this mentality and to accept fate.

I prefer to view Willie as a tragic hero rather than a tragic figure. A tragic hero may be defined as an honourable character with a fatal flaw that eventually leads to his ruin. Willie's fatal flaw was his desire to live a fair life without restrictions. He resented the fact that the whites were in control and wanted to be treated equally.

He was admired by the people of Sophiatown for being educated. They looked up to him and held him in high esteem. Because he was educated he was able to view certain issues from a different perspective. Unlike the typical residents of Sophiatown who simply accepted their social reality, he stood for change and equality.

From the beginning of the play it is noticed that Willie does not accept the status that the dominant whites have given to him. When Guy explains to Tobias how he must behave 'yes baas, no bass, thank you bass even if he kicks you in the backside' Willie gets upset and shouts 'Stop it, damn you!'. It is evident that Willie is angry and discontented with his current position. Although he does not accept it, he has no choice but to live with it. As a result he feels an overwhelming unhappiness...