Le Morte d'Arthur

Evolution of the Modern Heroic Archetype

The evolution of the tragic heroic archetype in post-roman literature can be traced from one of the most well known of medieval heroes, King Arthur of Camelot, to such fictional creations as Aragorn, from Tolkien's twentieth century masterwork The Lord of the Rings. The definition of a tragic hero is generally accepted as pertaining to characters who are morally good, but who contain a 'tragic' flaw that is responsible for their defeat. Taken from the Aristotelian definitions which define good tragedy on a classical Greek scale, these general terms are easily applied to the Arthurian myths and their modern heirs.

The question of whether or not Arthur was a real person in Britain's stormy history must be addressed prior to assessing the validity of his status as a tragic hero. While it does not affect the presentation of the myths and the points in them which pertain to this analyses, it is a controversy which includes the very nature of the myths themselves, streamlining them into either exaggerated supernatural versions of real events, or the mythos of a legendary pagan god-king. Several points as presented in classical Arthurian mythology are debatable in the simplest of manners - temporal possibility. The...

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