hamartia

hamartia
/hah'mahr tee"euh/, n.
[1890-95; < Gk: a fault, equiv. to hamart- (base of hamartánein to err) + -ia -IA]

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drama
also called  tragic flaw 

      (hamartia from Greek hamartanein, “to err”), inherent defect or shortcoming in the hero of a tragedy, who is in other respects a superior being favoured by fortune.

      Aristotle introduced the term casually in the Poetics in describing the tragic hero as a man of noble rank and nature whose misfortune is not brought about by villainy but by some “error of judgment” (hamartia). This imperfection later came to be interpreted as a moral flaw, such as Othello's jealousy or Hamlet's irresolution (Shakespeare, William), although most great tragedies defy such a simple interpretation. Most importantly, the hero's suffering and its far-reaching reverberations are far out of proportion to his flaw. An element of cosmic collusion among the hero's flaw, chance, necessity, and other external forces is essential to bring about the tragic catastrophe.

      In Greek tragedy the nature of the hero's flaw is even more elusive. Often the tragic deeds are committed unwittingly, as when Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and marries his own mother. If the deeds are committed knowingly, they are not committed by choice: Orestes is under obligation to Apollo to avenge his father's murder by killing his mother. Also, an apparent weakness is often only an excess of virtue, such as an extreme probity or zeal for perfection. It has been suggested in such cases, since the tragic hero is never passive but struggles to resolve his tragic difficulty with an obsessive dedication, that he is guilty of hubrisi.e., presumption of being godlike and attempting to overstep his human limitations.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hamartia — (Ancient Greek: Polytonic|ἁμαρτία) is a term developed by Aristotle in his work Poetics. The term can simply be seen as a character’s flaw or error. The word hamartia is rooted in the notion of missing the mark (hamartanein) and covers a broad… …   Wikipedia

  • Hamartia — (en griego antiguo: άμαρτία) es un término usado en la Poética de Aristóteles,[1] que se traduce usualmente como error trágico , defecto, fallo o pecado. Es el error fatal en que incurre el héroe trágico que intenta hacer lo correcto en una… …   Wikipedia Español

  • hamartia — error en el desarrollo; coristoma Diccionario ilustrado de Términos Médicos.. Alvaro Galiano. 2010 …   Diccionario médico

  • hamartia — Greek, lit. fault, failure, guilt, from hamartanein to fail of one s purpose; to err, sin, originally to miss the mark …   Etymology dictionary

  • hamartia — [hä΄mär tē′ə] n. [Gr < hamartanein, to err] TRAGIC FLAW …   English World dictionary

  • Hamartia — Für den Begriff der Hamartie oder Hamartia (griechisch ἁμαρτία) gibt es je nach Zusammenhang unterschiedliche Bedeutungen. Im Altgriechischen bedeutete Hamartia ursprünglich so viel wie nicht treffen, verfehlen, das Ziel verfehlen bzw. Verfehlung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • hamartia — noun a) The fatal flaw of a literary tragic hero main and foremost hamartia was his excessive pride. b) (Christian theology): sin …   Wiktionary

  • hamartia — noun Etymology: Greek, from hamartanein to miss the mark, err Date: 1913 tragic flaw …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hamartia — A localized developmental disturbance characterized by abnormal arrangement and/or combinations of the tissues normally present in the area. [G. hamartion, a bodily defect] * * * ha·mar·tia .häm .är tē əalso hə mär sh(ē )ə n HAMARTOMA * * *… …   Medical dictionary

  • hamartia — Term used by Aristotle to denote the error or failure (the ‘fatal flaw’) that leads the central figure of a tragedy to eventual catastrophe …   Philosophy dictionary

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