Monday, 16 March 2009

Say hello to your fatal flaw

The Unknown Screenwriter posted a blog recently about Hamartia - or a character's fatal flaw - and it makes interesting reading.

If you don't know what hamartia is (and I wouldn't if I hadn't studied Ancient Greek literature at school), it's basically a term coined by Aristotle meaning a character's fatal or tragic flaw. Good examples can be seen in Shakespeare's 'Othello' - Othello's fatal flaw is that he is far too rash and impulsive. He doesn't step back and think about things. As a result, he believes Iago's lies and kills Desdemona. It's important to note that these often appear in tragedies, what with the fatal flaw often resulting in the character's death.

A good example in film is DEATH OF A SALESMAN (ok, so that was a play first). In DEATH OF A SALESMAN, Willy Loman's fatal flaw is that he is too proud. He won't let himself accept that he's crap at his job. As a result, he kills himself.

The Unknown Screenwriter does a good job of explaining all about it and how it can help with character development. I suggest you check it out here.

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