What do you consider tragedy? According to Aristotle a tragedy is, “An imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions…. Every tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality–namely, Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Melody.” In the tragic novel “Pathfinder” by Orson Scoot Card; Rigg, is a young boy that has the ability to see the paths of living organisms, but is this ability a curse or gift? Rigg struggles to identify his purpose for living and challenges society. In the course of the novel, Rigg displays how he is a tragic hero with many traits like his stubbornness and arrogance; however Rigg also displays some compassion, which acknowledges Aristotle’s definition of tragedy.
A modern tragic hero can be a common person who is part of something greater, and may suffer a tragic fall of some kind where catharsis may be evident, but not in a profound way. However according to Aristotle, the tragic hero should be renowned and prosperous and possesses aspects like hamartia and mistakenly bring about their own downfall, which contains intense suffering and calamity. Rigg is our tragic hero in this novel, because he is the renowned prince of Aressa Sessamo and with his hamartia, he was later dethroned by his own mother. However he leaves the palace before his mother could kill him and heads towards “the Wallfold” where no one is willing to go for it overpowers anyone with intense fear and unbearable thoughts.
Every tragedy needs a plot and Aristotle emphasizes how “the plot is the “first principle,” the most important feature of tragedy.” Where “the outcome depends on a tightly constructed cause-and-effect chain of actions are superior to those that depend primarily on the character and personality of the protagonist.” For all this to be possible, Aristotle argues, “That plots should not be too brief; the more incidents and themes that the playwright can bring together, the greater the artistic value and richness of the play.”
Therefore, using Aristotle’s definition, we can establish that this novel is tragic. For the events of the novel are each necessary for “the cause-and-effect chain to produce pity and fear in the audience” according to Aristotle. The moment when Rigg first questioned his father, to learning about his true role in society, to him being dethroned as the climax. Then came the event of Rigg fleeing the palace and being exposed to “the Wallfold” of unbearable fear and emotions.
As Sir Francis Bacon once quoted, “Knowledge is power.”, and a limited will to know is disastrous, especially in tragedies. This relates to character in Aristotle’s theory of tragedy, which is the second most important part. This talks about the character’s aspects of hamartia or the tragic flaw of the hero, which is needed to support Rigg as a tragic hero. Initially, Rigg reveals that he is quite stubborn when he argues with his father for educating him on topics not relating to trapping because trapping is all he needs to know. This is proven in the text when Rigg is talking with his father, “I know everything I need to know already,” rig always said. “You teach me all kinds of strange things that have nothing to do with the way we live. Why do I need to know about astronomy or banking or all these languages you make me speak? I find the paths of animals, we trap them, we sell the furs, and I know how to do every bit of it.” (Card, 4)
To which father always replied, “See how ignorant you are? You don’t even know why you need to know the things you don’t know yet.” (Card, 4)
This quote suggests the tragic element of hamartia because “the role of the hamartia in