What Does Hubris Mean

What Does Hubris Mean 

In the modern context, hubris refers to the extreme pride and arrogance of a character. These qualities usually bring about the downfall of the said character at the end of the story. In ancient Greek context, hubris refers to violent and excessive behavior which was ultimately punished by the divinity.

Hubris is often a characteristic of a person enjoys a powerful position; he loses touch with reality due to this excessive power and starts to overestimate his power, abilities, and accomplishments. Gradually, this character crosses ordinary limits and violates moral ethics. This behavior ultimately results in his downfall as well. Hubris can be found in some of the major characters in tragedies.

What Does Hubris Mean

The downfall of Icarus is attributed to his hubris.

Examples of Hubris in Literature

The character of Macbeth in Shakespeare’s eponymous tragedy Macbeth is a fine example of hubris. Macbeth, who enjoys a considerable power in Duncan’s court, overestimates his competence and accomplishments when he believes that he can take the place of Duncan. He destroys all around him by trying to realize this ambition.

“The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.”

John Milton, in his famous epic poem Paradise Lost, portrays Satan as a character that has excessive pride and arrogance. His attempt to take control of the heaven is motivated by hubris. It is this hubris that ultimately drives him out of the heaven. But this does not put an end to his hubris. His words “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.” is a proof of his hubris.

In Christopher Marlow’s Doctor Faustus, hubris acts as the fatal flow of the protagonist. Faustus’s extreme pride and arrogance leads him to sign a pact with the devil. He sells his soul to the devil in order to be superior to all other men.

In Frankenstein written by Mary Shelly, The protagonist exhibits hubris in his attempt to become a superior and unrivaled scientist by creating a monster. Ultimately, this monster becomes the cause of the protagonist’s death.

Sophocles’s famous tragedy Oedipus is one of the first examples of hubris. It is his belief that he can defy the prophecies of the God that ultimately lead to the fulfillment of prophecies. So his pride and arrogance result in his fall.

“Sirrah, what mak’st thou here? Dost thou presume
To approach my doors, thou brazen-faced rogue,
My murderer and the filcher of my crown?
Come, answer this, didst thou detect in me
Some touch of cowardice or witlessness,
That made thee undertake this enterprise?
I seemed forsooth too simple to perceive
The serpent stealing on me in the dark,
Or else too weak to scotch it when I saw.
This _thou_ art witless seeking to possess
Without a following or friends the crown,
A prize that followers and wealth must win.”

Image Courtesy:

by By Jacob Peter Gowy – (Public Domain) via

About the Author: admin


Related pages


differences between polar and nonpolardisadvantages of bicameralismwhat is oncotic pressureconceit poetry definitionlymphocytes and leukocytescalculate quick ratio formulabaseball cinquain poemsthe difference between jealousy and envywhat is the difference between fondant and marzipanis a metaphor a direct or indirect comparisondifference between a cookie and a biscuitauxiliaries and modalsfunction of a rough endoplasmic reticulumdefinition of a bistrodifference between bengal and sumatran tigersdifference between fondant and sugarpastesatire and parody examplesenunciation and pronunciationmeaning of dry celldifference between complement and complimentdifference between an alpaca and llamaseedless nonvascular plants examplesdistinguish between velocity and speeddifference between rebonding and straighteningnon volatile liquidsdefine moanstofu or paneercrystalline definition chemistrydefinition for acquaintancesdefinition for hallucinationdifference between a civil servant and a public servantwhat is the difference between poetry and prosewhat is a sister chromatidssatire vs sarcasmfondant vs gum pastethe word onomatopoeia in a sentencedefine valency in chemistryrelation between frequency and wavelengthis baking soda and bicarbonate of soda the same thingabstracts nounsnigiri sashimiagnostic atheist definitiondistinguish between internal and external respirationadsorption vs absorptionfate and destiny definitionwhat is attributive adjectivecentripetal versus centrifugalbiodegradable polymers examplestension and compression membersessential and nonessential amino acidnovella characteristicsmono polyunsaturated fatsgerund and participle examples3rd person omniscient definitionalumnae vs alumni definitiondiamante poems examplesare heavy cream and whipping cream the samebake broil differencemicrofillamentinformal dictionwhat is the difference between quinoa and couscousdifference between dual and duelstratified epithelial cellswhat is protagonist and antagonist charactersi wonder as i wander poemdistinguish between saturated and unsaturated fatty acidsexamples of caesura in poetrymaiden of honor vs maid of honorwhat is the difference between rhythm and meterprosperous means in hindiwhat is a caesurastatic vs dynamic charactermile versus nautical mileelocuted definitiondifference kayak and canoemetallic minerals examplesxanthan gum and guar gum