Characterizing the tragic heroes in literature, Hegel stated that tragic heroes do not choose, but they act according to their natural essence. Heroes of ancient classical tragedies, if they are firmly resolved on a certain moral pathos, they must find themselves in conflict with an equally justifiable opposing moral force. The German philosopher and art theorist point out on the integrity of the tragic hero personality because there is no problem of choice for them.
Is it possible for Romeo and Juliet to question why they love each other? Their sad fate is not surprising, because of the embodiment of a single emotional impulse, therefore, the unusual plot dynamics, without which the Shakespear’s tragedy is impossible. The identity of Hamlet, who felt a disruption in the connection of time and tried to restore this connection, also differs by the whole. His slowness is not by any means the slowness of a person who cannot define moral priorities for himself and, accordingly, the direction of his life path. The definition of the tragic hero is related to his embodiment of certain life principles, “the moral pathos”, according to Hegel, and this is the basis of his integrity. This very essence comes into sharp conflict with the opposing no less significant essence.
What are the causes of the tragic denouement? Of course, the force opposing the hero is so significant and dangerous that a conflict with it cannot lead to the famous “happy end”. But the cause of the sad outcome is to be found in the hero himself. Trying to find an appropriate definition of a tragic hero, Hegel introduced the term “the tragic fault”, which is devoid of any hint of an estimated meaning, but only one: the hero is guilty in his sad outcome of events because of his own uncompromisingness and his fidelity to a certain “moral pathos”. At first glance, it may seem that the cause of the tragic denouement is an accident. It’s easy to simulate other variants of the final outcome for Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet if you exclude the accident that seemed to lead the heroes to death. But there is a certain life law besides the fortuity. This is the paradox of the genre: the will of the hero is in the center of the tragedy, at the same time he is dependent on the fate.
Two such different characters, Hamlet and Don Quixote, almost opposite by their natures, present two key literary images, whose personalities and destinies have determined many literary trends and served as examples for many future writers and poets. This is primarily due to their common search for themselves in the world, and let their ways were so different, the inner core of their motives was the same. The image of Hamlet is one of the most famous literary images in the world literature. The desperate Danish prince, pretending to be a madman and willing to revenge and to establish justice, is a deep person, an educated man, whose aristocracy is beyond any doubt. The personality of Hamlet is bright, fascinating and complex, and all these qualities are reflected in his struggle against this terrible world. Hamlet is much more representative than Don Quixote, the weird fighter with the injustice, who did not pretend to be crazy but seemed to really be almost mad. Don Quixote, in contrast to Shakespeare’s character, is a simple and even somewhat crude man, who most often causes laughter than respect or interest. The events that occur with Don Quixote seem to be, most likely, ridiculous and comical, and the fate of the contradictory Hamlet is tragic and gloomy. However, Don Quixote is going through much more humiliating and painful vicissitudes of fate, and it is obvious that Cervantes did not want his hero to look like a martyr. Don Quixote is a kind of altruist whose credo was to help people and save them from misfortunes. In this impulse, his crazy desire to show himself and correct the world around him are manifested, and he is doing it with his inherent absurdity and ignorance. And Hamlet thinks quite differently, and with his desire to resist the world around him, he is rather selfish and superficial in his judgments. These two opposites in their manifestations characters are similar in fighting for the survival of their personalities and souls in this unjust and limited world.
The death of heroes is the key to understanding their opposition to the world. Their sad final is due not only to circumstances but also to their personalities. Both heroes perish, thus, at first glance, the end of the story of their struggle and torment is the same, but the key to understanding their opposite is how they die. The death of Hamlet is the tragic culmination of his loss. The final scene is full of drama and pathos, Hamlet speaks sublime and his last words are full of power and depth of his personality. The death of Don Quixote, of course, is also tragic, but it gives the reader a rather bright feeling. The end of his life is sad, but this is the kind of sadness that is called bright and kind. The illusions with which the brave Don Quixote lived, remain with him and he does not abandon his life values, even after death. Hamlet, being a more conscious person, creates an impression of a hero who was true to his death, because of his personality. Hamlet’s life was full of tragic events, the character of the hero himself was the cause of tragic events, such as the death of his bride Ophelia.
Both Shakespeare and Cervantes at the same time created two unique images of completely different people, whose life essence entailed the tragic loss of other people. They managed to highlight this theme from completely different sides, and as tragic heroes, Hamlet and Don Quixote were seeking salvation for their own personality and, of course, for their soul by all possible means.