Hubris is a literary device that refers to excessive pride or arrogance that leads to a character’s downfall. It is a common theme in literature, particularly in tragic plays and epic poetry. Characters with hubris often have an inflated sense of their own abilities or importance, and they disregard the warnings of others or the consequences of their actions. They may believe that they are invincible or above the laws of the gods or society. Hubris is often used to explore the human condition, and to caution against the dangers of unchecked pride and ambition.
Examples of hubris:
In “King Lear” by William Shakespeare, the character Lear’s pride and stubbornness lead him to make unwise decisions, ultimately leading to the downfall of himself and his family.
In “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, Satan’s pride and ambition lead him to rebel against God and be cast out of heaven.
In “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the title character’s pride and desire to win back his former lover leads him to engage in illegal activities and ultimately leads to his downfall.
In “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the character Reverend Dimmesdale’s pride and fear of exposure lead him to continue hiding his affair, ultimately leading to his death.