Devdas, the Aristotelian Tragic Hero of Indian Literature: A Case Study

Yasaman Nouri

Kharazmi University of Tehran, Iran. Email:

  Volume 1, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v1n3.s202


India has had a long fascination for the story of Devdas (1917). This tragic novella created by the Bengali author Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay has always evoked dominant emotions of pity and sympathy. The story has been made into countless movies and newer versions never seem to stop. The story of this doomed love has gained an iconic status and identification in India, equivalent to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Devdas’s character is recognized as a popular young tragic hero like Romeo. The tragic hero derives from the Greek drama, as elucidated by the criticism of Aristotle in particular. The fourth century Greek philosopher defined tragedy in his Poetics, and laid forth a blueprint for what he saw to work as the perfect, successful tragedy and what makes an ideal tragic hero. In his work Aristotle gives some criteria and specific characteristics that the tragic hero in a successful tragedy should meet. In this paper the character points and the specific characteristics of the hero will be discussed for the case of Devdas, to prove that the character of Devdas in the novella matches the archetype of the tragic hero introduced by Aristotle in his famous literary work Poetics.

 Keywords: Tragic Hero, Aristotle, Poetics, Devdas