Epic Vs. Tragic | Teen Ink

Epic Vs. Tragic

October 25, 2007
By Anonymous

Epic Vs. Tragic

Tragic heroes and Epic heroes; to the average person, they may think there is no difference. To a student in Mrs. Mroz’s Honors LA class, they know that there is much more to it than that they are both just heroes. Yes, they both have hero at the end, but it is the Epic and Tragic in the font that really matter. A tragic hero, unlike an epic hero, usually does not have a happy ending and also does not have to be entirely good nor evil, which is surprising to most. Whereas with an epic hero, he may have to deal with supernatural beings and is said to often perform courageous, sometimes super human deeds.

In the play Beowulf, Beowulf, the main character is the exact image of an epic hero. One of the main characteristics of an epic hero is his informal speech which Beowulf does on page 36, lines 127 to 189. He speaks of what he has come for and leaves the lasting impression saying “…fate will unwind as it must!” along with his formal speech, Beowulf carries his epic hero duties very well. He also must “perform courageous-sometimes superhuman- deeds.” Which Beowulf exemplifies through his fight with Grendels mom, alone and weaponless. Epic heroes almost always come out on top, (especially in Beowulf’s case), unlike the tragic hero, who almost never gets as lucky.

A main characteristic of a tragic hero is that they must have a tragic flaw, which leads to their downfall. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus’ flaw does not seem like one that would be able to be topped by anything else. Oedipus’ downfall was one he had thought he had successfully avoided his entire life. Which is how he falls into the trait of not being entirely good or evil. (He is good because he comes to the city of Thebes to try and help their town find the murderer of their former king, yet evil because the murderer he is looking for is actually himself.) On page, 64, Oedipus invokes pity on himself (also a characteristic of a tragic hero) after finding out the truth about his parents and his past history. “Ah god! It was true! All the prophecies! Now, o light, may I look on you for the last time! I, Oedipus, Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage damned, damned in the blood he shed with his own hand!” Oedipus and his story are the true definition of a tragic hero.

Once the two stories are compared, the difference between an epic and tragic hero seems as clear as a day without clouds. Epic heroes seem to get off just a little bit easier than tragic heroes. Epic heroes get to come out on top and at the end of the day are still thought of as noble birth and great historic importance. As for tragic heroes, once their fight is over, they come out on the bottom, with a tragic downfall that they will probably not ever get out of. Much like Oedipus, who ended up blind and parentless? In the end of the day, being an epic hero is much more rewarding than a tragic hero, the titles say it themselves!

This will certify that the above work is completely original.

Similar Articles


This article has 5 comments.

briannalc said...
on Dec. 2 2013 at 10:48 pm
This essay was great! Very well written!

Kaitlin said...
on Sep. 3 2012 at 7:31 pm
Beowulf dies at the end of the story after a painful battle with the fire dragon--it wasn't all fun and games for him. Just putting that out there.

on Nov. 16 2011 at 9:22 pm
it was really understandable mare than epic good movie though

on Nov. 16 2011 at 9:04 am
Beowulf is not a play, it's an epic.

Minnie Mouse said...
on Sep. 19 2011 at 12:32 pm
A simple word to describe this is Perfect :)