1. What is it?
Hubris is the notion of ‘foolish pride’ in which pride leads to one’s downfall. In Greek mythology it is a level of arrogance that is seen to challenge the gods, sparking their anger and causing them to react.
The consequence of hubris is ‘the fall’ in which the proud individual is knocked down.
Technically hubris relates to the pride, not the fall, but mostly people consider it a fall caused by pride.
2. How is it made?
|A character shows extreme pride, usually from ego. This is shown through boasts and overconfidence.||The character embarks on activities in which they fail to control this pride. Warning or reason are ignored.|
|The character eventually meets a situation in which the excessive pride or confidence leads to their own misfortune.||The character may realise the errors of their ways and promise to be more humble in the future.|
3. Examples in literature
Know Your Book
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Author: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Genre: Poetry; sonnet; Romantic
Synopsis: In the poem, a traveller talks about a broken old statue of Egyptian pharaoh Ozymandias (Ramesses II) in the desert. The statue lionises the ruler, presenting a godlike leader ruling over all, yet time has destroyed it, and the world has forgotten both the statue and the pharaoh. The moral is that time, nature and people move on for everybody, regardless of power and declarations. For anybody to claim they are above this is misguided and arrogant, and doomed to fail.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.
|Skimming, Scanning and Basic Comprehension|
1. What stands in the desert?
2. What was written on the base of the statue?
3. What role does time have in this poem?
4. Who is the narrator in this poem?
5. What rhyme structure is used in Ozymandias?
6. By what epithet does Ozymandias refer to himself?
7. How is the line written on the base of the statue ironic?
8. How does the poet express the relationship between Ozymandias and the sculptor?
9. ‘Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” What does this line say about Ozymandias?
10. In what way is the statue a metaphor? Explain your answer using examples from the text.
11. What effect do the last three lines have? What are they expressing?
12. How does Shelley use the contrasts of pride and defeat to create hubris?
13. What do you feel about Ozymandias? Is he a person to be respected, ridiculed, or something else?
14. As well as hubris, do you think this poem says anything else about life? If so, what?
15. ‘Ozymandias’ was another name of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Does knowing the poem is based on a real person effect it in any way?
Know Your Book
by John Milton
Title: Paradise Lost
Author: John Milton (1608-1674)
Genre: Poetry; epic poetry; Christian mythology
Plot: After a war in Heaven sees him and his supporters expelled to Hell, Satan decides to corrupt God’s new creation, Earth. He arrives in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve are the first humans, and disguises himself as a snake. Satan tempts Eve to sin by eating forbidden fruit, and then Satan triumphantly returns to Hell. Here, however, he and his other fallen angels are turned into snakes. Meanwhile, Adam is shown that humans can overcome their sin by following Jesus Christ.
Setting: Heaven; Garden of Eden
Characters: Satan; Adam; Eve; Archangel Michael
Excerpt from Book 1:
From their Creator, and transgress his Will
For one restraint, Lords of the World besides?
Who first seduc’d them to that foul revolt?
Th’infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stirr’d up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heav’n, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equall’d the most High,
If he oppos’d; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Rais’d impious War in Heav’n and Battle proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurl’d headlong flaming from th’Ethereal Sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,
Who durst defy th’Omnipotent to Arms.
|1. To what event from the Bible does the passage primarily refer?|
a) The banishment of Satan from Heaven
b) Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
c) The birth of Jesus
d) The issuing of The Ten Commandments
e) The punishment of Lot’s wife
|2. Of which of the following is the main character not deemed guilty?|
a) Challenging God
c) Instigating war
|3. ‘Th’infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile / Stirr’d up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d / The Mother of Mankind’. Based on this context, who is ‘The Mother of Mankind’?|
c) Mary Magdalene
|4. The final six lines describe|
|5. How is the aspect of time similar in Paradise Lost and Ozymandias?|
a) The past and the future are depicted as the same
b) It is described as cyclical
c) The post-hubris fall is immediate
d) The post-hubris fall is eternal
e) The writer is unsure when the events took place