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PLAGIARISM

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TODAY

Tragedy

Tragedy

See the following links for further information.
Aristotle's Theories of Tragedy

Aristotelian definition of tragedy and tragic hero
http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/lit_terms/tragedy.html

TRAGEDIES ONLINE


http://eserver.org/drama/shakespeare/tragedies/macbeth.txt
 
http://eserver.org/drama/sophocles/antigone.txt
 
http://eserver.org/drama/sophocles/oedipus-trilogy.txt

 
http://eserver.org/drama/shakespeare/comedies/merchant-of-venice.txt

From Encyclopedia Brittanica

"Aristotle (384-322 BC) defends the purgative power of tragedy and, in direct contradiction to Plato, makes moral ambiguity (explain) the essence of tragedy. The tragic hero must be neither a villain nor a virtuous man but a "character between these two extremes, . . . a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty [hamartia]." The effect on the audience will be similarly ambiguous."Tragedy," says Aristotle, "is an imitation [mimesis] of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude . . . through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation [catharsis] of these emotions."

To establish the basis for a reconciliation between ethical and artistic demands, Aristotle insists that the principal element in the structure of tragedy is not character but plot. Since the erring protagonist is always in at least partial opposition to the state, the importance of tragedy lies not in him but in the enlightening event. "Most important of all," Aristotle said, "is the structure of the incidents. For tragedy is an imitation not of men but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its end is a mode of action, not a quality . . . ." Aristotle considered the plot to be the soul of a tragedy, with character in second place. The goal of tragedy is not suffering but the knowledge that issues from it, as the denouement issues from a plot. The most powerful elements of emotional interest in tragedy, according to Aristotle, are reversal of intention or situation (peripeteia) and recognition scenes (anagnorisis), and each is most effective when it is coincident with the other. In Oedipus, for example, the messenger who brings Oedipus news of his real parentage, intending to allay his fears, brings about a sudden reversal of his fortune, from happiness to misery, by compelling him to recognize that his wife is also his mother.

 

______________________________________

"A Definition of Tragedy: Excerpts"

Tragedy is "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament... in the form of drama, not of narrative, through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions (catharsis)." Tragedy must tell of a person who is "highly renowned and prosperous" and who falls as a result of some "error, or frailty," because of external or internal forces, or both.

External forces include fate, fortune, the gods, and circumstances. The internal forces include "error or frailty." The Greek term he uses in The Poetics is harmartia, translated as "tragic flaw." The final elements are the reversal of action and the growth of understanding, or self-knowledge. Aristotle calls the reversal of action or intention the peripete : the instant when there is a "change by which the action veers around to its opposite." The moment of comprehension is the recognition (anagnorisis). This recognition means that the protagonist canes to understand his place in the scheme of things. --a paraphrase of Aristotl

Shakespeare puts this beautifully when Hamlet talks ironically about King Claudius whom he dislikes :

 

"So, oft it chances in particular men,

That for some vicious mole of nature in them, (1.4.24)

As, in their birth--wherein they are not guilty,

Since nature cannot choose his origin--

By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,

Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,

Or by some habit that too much o'er-leavens

The form of plausive manners, that these men,

Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,

Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,-- (1.4.32)

Their virtues else--be they as pure as grace,

As infinite as man may undergo--

Shall in the general censure take corruption

From that particular fault: the dram of evil

Doth all the noble substance often dout (1.4.37)

To his own scandal."

This is ironical, because Hamlet is really talking about himself here. This quality that he describes is hamartia, the fatal flaw.

Aristotelian defined tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious

and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself." It incorporates

"incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish the catharsis of

such emotions."

 

The tragic hero will most effectively evoke both our pity and terror if he

is neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly evil but a combination of both.

The tragic effect will be stronger if the hero is "better than we are," in

that he is of higher than ordinary moral worth. Such a man is shown as

suffering a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken

act, to which he is led by his hamartia (his "effort of judgment") or, as it

is often literally translated, his tragic flaw.

One common form of hamartia in Greek tragedies was hubris, that "pride" or

overweening self-confidence which leads a protagonist to disregard a divine

warning or to violate an important law

 

Definition of a Tragic Hero

A tragic hero has the potential for greatness but is doomed to fail. He is

trapped in a situation where he cannot win. He makes some sort of tragic

flaw, and this causes his fall from greatness. Even though he is a fallen

hero, he still wins a moral victory, and his spirit lives on

TRAGIC HEROES ARE:

 

‡        BORN INTO NOBILITY:

 

‡        RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN FATE

 

‡        ENDOWED WITH A TRAGIC FLAW

 

‡        DOOMED TO MAKE A SERIOUS ERROR IN JUDGEMENT

 

‡        FALL FROM GREAT HEIGHTS OR HIGH ESTEEM

 

‡        REALIZE THEY HAVE MADE AN IRREVERSIBLE MISTAKE

 

‡        FACES AND ACCEPTS DEATH WITH HONOR

 

‡        MEET A TRAGIC DEATH

 

FOR ALL TRAGIC HEROES THE AUDIENCE IS AFFECTED BY PITY and/or FEAR

QUESTIONS

  1. Comprehensive dot point definition of tragedy.
  2. Dot point explanation of tragic hero.
  3. Explain the following :
    1. Hamartia
    2. Peripeteia
    3. Anagnorisis
    4. Catharsis
    5. Hubris

     

 

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Feel free to access these resources for study purposes or classroom use. However where they have been directly dowloaded for distribution or copied and provided as notes, please acknowledge as a courtesy. John Watson