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Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl: Hamartia of a Tragic Hero

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Hamartia is the Greek word for a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero. In Roald Dahl’s collection, Skin and Other Stories, many characters reveal their ‘Hamartia’. In Dip in the Pool, a story where Mr. Botibol bets away all his money and this causes him to die, Mr. Botibol discloses his ‘Hamartia’. But, greed, foolishness and impulsiveness are the three pivotal flaws that act as the catalyst to the downfall of Mr. Botibol in “Dip in the Pool”. In “Dip in the Pool”, greed is a flawed characteristic that Mr. Botibol displays throughout the story. During the auction, in which guests wager on the estimated arrival time of the ship, Mr. Botibol’s greedy characteristics get the best of him. Mr. Botibol gets out of control with the betting: “’Two hundred!’ Mr. Botibol called. He was not stopping now – not for anyone” (Dahl 136).

Mr. Botibol greediness is the beginning of the end for him. He got so greedy that he did not think of anything else. He talks about how he would buy a Lincoln convertible and that he would make them pay him in one – hundred dollars bills; he only thought about himself and the money during the auction. His selflessness is also showed when he went into two years of his wife’s and his savings. Mr. Botibol allowed to money to get to his head and this evidently led to his downfall. By the end of the bidding night, Mr. Botibol had the thought of him being rich permeated in his head. At the end of the bidding night, the actioner added up the pot and Roald Dahl stated,” They added it up after the last number had been sold and it came out to twenty – one – hundred – odd pounds,” (136) An amount of money like that made Mr. Botibol go crazy. He got greedy and he explicitly explains how great his life would be. His arrogance and greed caused him to not appreciate the wonderful things in life like his family and wife. By going into two years of his savings, this shows that his and his wife’s future is dictated by the greed of Mr. Botibol.

The money got to Mr. Botibol’s head and this is one other reason which lead to his downfall. Another issue is, Mr. Botibol’s greed begins to cloud his vison and it causes him to start to have irrational thoughts. After he realized that the boat would not arrive in the ‘low bowl’ timing, Dahl explains Mr. Botibol’s thoughts by saying “Well, he thought, why not? Why ever not? The sea was calm, and he would not have any trouble keeping afloat until they picked him up” (138). Mr. Botibol’s ideas became so extreme that he was willing to jump off a boat and risk his life just because he was not going to get a sum of money. He did not think of other realistic and rational scenarios; he only thought of dramatic and irrational ones. This is another example why his greediness lead to his downfall. Overall, all the negative characteristics that were brought out by Mr. Botibol, being out of control, thinking that he is going to be rich and his irrational thinking, were caused by his greedy mindset which acts as the catalyst to his downfall in “Dip in the Pool”.

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