Aristotlean tragic heroes are defined by their fame and by their personal flaw which cause their own downfall. This is still true today as many influential people have cause their own demise due to their own personality flaws. James Dean is an excellent example of a contemporary tragic hero. (See Thesis)
Born February 8th, in Fairmount, Indiana to Winston Dean and Mildred Wilson, James Dean quickly became a rambunctious toddler (They Died 26). All was perfect in his world until in 1940 his mother lost her battle with cancer when James was only nine years old (Encyclopedia n.p.). His father felt unfit to raise James. Winston made the decision to send his only son to his sister's farm. As a child Dean took violin lessons but his classmates had picked fun of him for his lessons. (Dictionary n.p.). High school crept by slowly for the rebellious teen. He was a rule breaker and often scared other students with his moped (Dictionary n.p.). But, there was another side to the young man. He had several state titles in basketball, drama, and in debate (Encyclopedia n.p.). He was charismatic and he had a part in every school play. (Dictionary n.p.).
James graduated in 1949, he quickly headed to California to attend college at Santa Monica City College. He majored in drama while there. (Dictionary n.p.). He received a small role in a television show “Hill Number One.” “His appeal to adolescents of the era was signaled immediately when a group of girls attending Immaculate Heart School formed his first fan club.” (Dictionary n.p.).
By 1951, he had transferred to UCLA and began working for CBS parking cars. While working he met Rogers Brackett; he helped James land small roles on radio shows. Brackett suggested that James should move to New York to study with Elia Kazan. (They Died 26). Dean's agent, Jane Deacy, helped him become an overnight success in East of Eden, where he played Cal Trask (Dictionary n.p.). Quickly, Warner Brother Pictures saw Dean's potential as an actor and begged him to be the rebellious misfit Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause; this became his signature film. (International n.p.). Rebel Without a Cause was a look into middle class delinquents. It is thought that James Dean wasn't Jim Stark, Jim Stark was James Dean. Rebel Without a Cause made James Dean famous and he was nominated for several awards for his work such as the Daniel Blum Theatre World Award for “best newcomer”, nominated Best performance in East of Eden, French Crystal Star award and the Japanese Million Pearl award (Encyclopedia n.p.).
But even from a young age his flaw was apparent. James Dean had a need for an escape and he sought after it through speed. When James turned thirteen he received his first moped (They Died 26). Though it did not go as fast as his later cars it sparked his love of speed. His co-workers saw his risk taking in work to be the key to his...