30 April 2014
Kennedy Is an American Tragic Hero
What makes a hero a tragic hero? According to the Greek play write Aristotle, a hero must possess certain character traits in order to be tragic. Aristotle’s rules are still used today when labeling a hero tragic or not tragic. Jack Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United States is a tragic hero, because he possess four of the six traits a tragic hero must possess. This will be proven through the use of credible sources and explanation of these four traits.
President Kennedy easily qualifies for the first rule of being a tragic hero because, he was a man of noble stature and greatness. Kennedy accomplished noble stature and greatness before he became president when he wrote a Pulitzer Prize novel, saved his men in the Navy when he was a PT Boat Skipper, and eventually when he became the president. In The Presidents of the United States, Freidel and Sidey inform the reader that:
He (JFK) wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in History. (Freidel and Sidey).
Winning a Pulitzer was not the only thing he did that made him great before presidency. Kennedy was also a WWII war hero. As a PT boat skipper he saved his men in an attack from the Japanese. One of the men who knew Kennedy, saved after his PT-109 was hit by a Japanese destroyer in the Blackett Strait, was Patrick McMahon. After McMahon passed away in 1990 his step-son was asked about the event and what McMahon said about Kennedy:
Because he suffered extensive burns in the action, McMahon was unable to swim. The machinist mate first class was kept afloat for about four hours by Kennedy, who swam three miles to a small island with McMahon’s life jacket between his teeth. My stepfather often told me that he begged Kennedy to just leave him there, that the rescue was too difficult…He thought the world of President Kennedy, who saved his life, no doubt about it. (Granberry, Michael).
Kennedy not only saved McMahon’s life but he also saved the lives of almost a dozen of his crew men. JFK’s rescued men talked about this event at an emotional reunion that they had in honor of his memory, which Ted Chamberlain wrote about:
Two crewmen died in the collision. Despite an injured back, 26 year-old Skipper Kennedy led his remaining ten comrades on a week-long survival struggle. Swimming – and towing injured men- over vast distances, the survivors found precious little food or water on a series of tiny islands. Back at the PT base, their colleagues had given them up for dead. (Chamberlain, Ted).
President Kennedy’s action as a PT skipper during WWII made him a man of noble stature long before he became the president of the United States. Becoming the thirty-fifth President of the United States is what ultimately made President Kennedy a man of great stature, an excerpt of his speech can be found in his presidential library:
John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President on...