Thomas More: Tragic Hero?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade January 2002

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Even though Thomas More satisfies many of the attributes of the classical definition of a tragic hero, he does not satisfy enough to be counted as such. According to the definition of a tragic hero, the protagonist must be very conspicuous. More certainly satisfies this aspect, because he was one of the most respected barristers in England. More was also the chancellor of England and the subject of much speculation among the upper class. A tragic hero must also be a human, with flaws and all. This is where the definition begins to diverge from Thomas More. More is a "paragon of virtues." He is a devout Catholic that will not bastardize his beliefs, even to save his life. This break down follows through the line of reasoning with its defiance of the next tenet: A tragic hero must have a tragic flaw that leads to his/her downfall.

More has none. The action that leads to More's death is the perjury of Richard Rich. This perjury arose from More's wanting to protect Richard eternal soul (by not providing a job in which he would be tempted to accept bribes). More never erred in any way. Towards the end of the definition, More satisfies more or the tenets. More's downfall is inevitable. He would not change his views, which were against the king. The king has the ultimate power at this time; More had none. With the perjury of Richard, More's fate was sealed. Despite the inevitability of his demise, More still fights. More fights through his silence. Of course, this was not good enough. More also fights the "system" through his deposition in the climax of the film. Thomas uses this opportunity, knowing that he will die, to speak his mind and attack parliament for their heresy against god. More is not a tragic hero, because integrally he has no tragic flaw.