Hubris is character trait that features excessive pride or inflated self-confidence, leading a protagonist to disregard a divine warning or violate an important moral law. As a literary device, hubris is commonly exhibited by a tragic hero as their tragic flaw, or hamartia. The extreme pride or arrogance of hubris often consumes a character, blinding them to reason and resulting in their ultimate downfall.
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Examples of Hubris in Fictional Characters
Hubris is a common literary device applied to fictional characters whose excessive pride, self-importance, or arrogance leads them to negative consequences. Here are some examples of fictional characters that exhibit hubris:
Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)
Gaston (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)
Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby)
Prince Humperdinck (The Princess Bride)
Emma Bovary (Madame Bovary)
Troy Maxson (Fences)
Willie Stark (All the King’s Men)
Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein)
Doctor Faustus (Doctor Faustus)
Blanche Dubois (A Streetcar Named Desire)
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Difference Between Hubris and Pride
Though pride is often used as a synonym for hubris, there are differences between the two. Hubris indicates an excess of pride, confidence, and self-importance. Pride, in its authentic nature, is considered positive and desirable. Pride is associated with healthy self-esteem, self-evaluation, and self-confidence. The outcome of authentic pride as a character trait is generally an individual who is considered conscientious, emotionally stable, and agreeable.
However, hubristic pride is considered negative and undesirable as a character trait. Hubris is characterized by low internal self-esteem, arrogance, egotism, aggression, disagreeableness, and even shame. In addition, the outcomes associated with hubristic pride are recklessness, impulsiveness, disregard for the well-being of others, and heightened attention to the individual’s image or persona.
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