Kristy Kim Essay 1 Outline

Kristy Kim

English 012: Essay #1 Outline

Professor Dimock

16 February 2016


An Unconventional Tragic Hero?

 A Character Study of Newland Archer


What is a tragic hero?

  • Classical definition: a person of noble birth with heroic or potential heroic qualities
  • Is fated by some supernatural force to destruction and/or suffering
  • The hero struggles against his fate, wins admiration/sympathy for engaging in cosmic conflict
  • Because of the hero’s hamartia, or tragic flaw, the hero fails in his struggle against fate, hero brings about his own destruction
  • Fate vs. free will—how much is pre-destined? Does fate exist? Does luck exist (good or bad)?
  • Through great suffering the hero is enlightened (But is Newland ever enlightened? Compare to Countess Olenska and May Welland)
  • Tragic doom is usually both public and private
  • internal vs. external conflict
  • Aristotle’s definition: “a man doesn’t become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall”
  • An Aristotelian tragic hero must possess 5 specific characteristics
  • Flaw or error of judgment (hamartia): role of justice/revenge in judgments
  • Reversal of fortune (peripeteia) brought about because of hero’s error in judgment
  • Discovery/recognition of the reversal of fortune (brought by the hero’s own actions—anagnorisis) Does Newland recognize? (It is recognized by the reader)
  • Excessive pride (hubris)
  • Character’s fate is greater than deserved


Newland Archer:

1) person of noble birth: importance of bloodlines in New York high society

2) societal hierarchy/structure: external forces/Newland’s world

  • novel begins with Newland rebelling against society superficially
  • “Women ought to be free—as free as we are” (34)
  • “about to ally himself with one of his own kind” (26)
  • contradicting views: Newland believes that he is enlightened/progressive against a crooked society

3) Newland’s hamartia: “thinking over a pleasure to come often gave him a subtler satisfaction than its realization” (4)

– connect to the ending of the novel

– fear of rebelling against the status quo

– admires Countess Olenska for her independence but fears her fate

4) fate vs. free will

– are they “free” to do what they want? Ned Winsett connection

– bound by societal expectations/their own expectations of what they deserve

– they never see another perspective (i.e. even when traveling abroad, the bubble of New York follows)

– his reversal of fortune is ironically when he gets his wish (his marriage with May is accerlerated)—motif continues throughout novel

5) Newland never reaches actual self-actualization (both emotionally and intellectually)

– compare to Ned Winsett, the tutor, Riviere

– compare to Countess Olenska, May Welland

– unpleasantness


What is Newland’s greatest tragedy?

  • That he was never able to be with Countess Olenska?
  • Or that he stood in the way of his own happiness—fears, societal pressures, cowardice
  • Unfulfilled potential, the flower of life: does he mourn it or just recognize his loss?



  • “conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the “new people” whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to” (3)
  • “sitting down beside her broke a lily-of-the-valley from her bouquet. She sat silent, and the world lay like a sunlit valley at their feet” (20-21)
  • “nothing about his betrothed pleased him more than her resolute determination to carry to its utmost limit that ritual of ignoring the “unpleasant” in which they had both been brought up” (21)
  • “we need new blood and new money” (25)
  • “Madame Olenska has had an unhappy life: that doesn’t make her an outcast” (33)
  • “That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything” (35)
  • “the experience, the versatility, the freedom of judgment, which she had been carefully trained not to possess” (36)
  • “In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs” (36)
  • “untrained human nature was not frank and innocent; it was full of twists and defences of an instinctive guile. And he felt himself oppressed by this creation of factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestresses” (37)
  • “he wondered if she did not begin to see what a powerful engine it was, and how nearly it had crushed her” (61)
  • “Everything may be labelled—but everybody is not”// “I suppose there’s no need to, in heaven” (63) (108)
  • “they could only look out blankly at blankness” (67)
  • “should have respected the feelings of New York” (72)
  • “it suddenly became the Pharisaic voice of a society wholly absorbed in barricading itself against the unpleasant” (80)
  • “but one can’t make over society” (91)
  • “You’ll never amount to anything, any of you, till you roll up your sleeves and get right down into the muck” (102)
  • “here was the life that belonged to him” (115)
  • “You mustn’t think that a girl knows as little as her parents imagine. One hears and one notices–one has one’s feelings and ideas” (121)
  • “Yet there was a time when Archer had had definite and rather aggressive opinions on all such problems, and when everything concerning the manners and customs of his little tribe had seemed to him fraught with world-wide significance” (149)
  • “There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free” (160)
  • “Something he knew he had missed: the flower of life” (286)
  • “What was left of the little world he had grown up in, and whose standard had bent and bound him?” (290)
  • “She said she knew we were safe with you, and always would be, because once, when she asked you to, you’d given up the thing you most wanted” (293)
  • “It’s more real to me here than if I went up” (298)




This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Kristy Kim Essay 1 Outline

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *