What does one make of a death that sparks celebration among some and solemnity among others?
The mixed reactions following Fidel Castro’s death can be likened to Shakespearean tragic heroes. Famous literary works such as Julius Ceasar have protagonists who’s ultimate deaths were a result of a tragic flaw.
In Greek mythology, Aristotle had 6 traits which a character had to possess before earning the title tragic hero. Let’s use these traits to determine whether Fidel Castro fits the bill.
Hubris — Excessive pride and disrespect for natural order.
Fidel Castro was a man of many promises and almost delusional ambition. From the formation of the revolution to fight against Batista’s dictatorship, to the ill-fated 10 million ton harvest of sugar in the 60s, his plans were grandiose and unrelenting to a fault.
Hamartia — The tragic flaw that causes the downfall of a hero.
Because of his love of power, Fidel Castro wanted nothing more than to fight American Imperialism. His aim was to prove that Cuba, a small Island, could successfully go against Super Power nations, no matter what it took. This led to a regime of repression and authoritarianism.
Peripeteia — The reversal of fate that the hero experiences.
Everything Fidel Castro fought against, he became. He formed an anti-communist revolution, then later declared Cuba a Communist state. He fought against dictatorship only to become one. He even went from being a leader for the poor, to banishing them to settlements. A leadership of inconsistency and false hope.
Nemesis — A fortune that the hero cannot avoid, usually due to retribution of his hubris.
The fall of the Soviet Union. Even after the Soviet Union’s betrayal during the Missile Crisis of 1962, Fidel Castro still relied heavily on the backing of the Soviet Union to fight against Imperialist America. It’s eventual disintegration brutally tore down Cuba’s economy.
Anagnorisis — This moment happens when hero makes an important discovery in the story.
The special period, when Cuba’s economy is nearing irreparable ruins. Fidel Castro realizes that he needs to have more lenient tourism and trade policies with foreign investors if Cuba is to survive.
Catharsis — These are the feelings of pity and fear that the audience feels for the protagonist after his downfall.
This is what everyone is feeling now. The confusion of whether Fidel Castro’s intent justified the results. The debate on whether improved literacy and universal healthcare was worth the demise of a nation. And whether his efforts to fight for liberation of countries in Africa and Asia overrode the crimes against humanity in his own country.
In my opinion, If Fidel Castro were a Shakespearean character, he would be Macbeth, who’s dissatisfaction with a Thane’s title led to evil means to become a King.
Except I have to wonder which of Fidel Castro’s many wives and mistresses was his Lady Macbeth, who instructed him to‘‘ Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ‘t’.