© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Hamartia

Definition:

Often thought of as a tragic flaw, hamartia is actually the Greek word for "mistake" or "error." Whatever the case, hamartia is what leads to a hero's downfall in a tragedy, like Macbeth's ambition. Or Cool Hand Luke's penchant for rebellion. Okay, maybe we're stretching it a bit with that last one.

Tags: General, Drama