Anthony Soprano; Aristotelian Tragic Hero, Anti-Hero, or Thug; and Why We Watch
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- Aristotle; heroism; psychopathy; The Sopranos; Arts and Humanities; Theatre and Performance Studies
thesis / dissertation description
The Sopranos is one of the most watched, most critically successful series in the history of television. Lead character Tony Soprano has been referred to as an Aristotelian Tragic Hero by several observers, as merely a complex character by others, and by still others as nothing more than a criminal, albeit a fascinating one. This project has examined his status as hero by providing a brief historical survey of characters deemed heroic and by surveying the history of the evolution of the word: hero. The concept of who can be called a hero has undergone significant alteration. Where Tony Soprano fits within this historical and evolutionary process has been a chief focus here. To help determine where Tony Soprano lies within whatever concept of heroicism currently applies, I have examined every episode of the series and charted actions which help categorize him. I have also examined the literature which attempts to explain why audiences are attracted to, sympathize with, like, and even identify with a character whom, if they were to encounter him in real life, they would greatly fear. My analysis strongly suggests that he is a hero of no stripe, that he is a thug, and that he is a psychopath. I believe we watched the series because it is expertly written, brilliantly acted, and because psychopathic criminals make such fascinating creatures to observe.