tragic flaw

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tragic flaw (plural tragic flaws)

  1. (chiefly literary criticism) A personality trait or other characteristic of a real or fictional individual which is immoral, destructive, or otherwise faulty and which leads to the ruin or profound suffering of that individual.
    • 1948 May 31, Harold V. Cohen, "'Green Grass of Wyoming'" (film review), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, p. 28 (retrieved 5 July 2012):
      When a heroine's tragic flaw takes the form of uncontrollable love for an outlaw, the paths of momentary glory can lead but to defeat.
    • 1995 Oct. 1, John Carlin, "OJ's guilt is a black and white choice," The Independent (UK) (retrieved 5 July 2012):
      If the jury, who begin their final deliberations tomorrow, find the black All-American hero guilty of murdering his white wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, they will have concluded that he succumbed to the oldest tragic flaw in the book, the green-eyed monster of jealousy.
    • 2002 Feb. 25, J. F. O. McAllistair, "Blair the Bungee Jumper," Time:
      The control-freak instinct runs too deep. . . . This runs the risk of becoming a tragic flaw.