definition of tragedy and tragic hero
(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."
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
Definition of Tragedy: Excerpts"
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.
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
puts this beautifully when Hamlet talks ironically about King Claudius
whom he dislikes :
oft it chances in particular men,
for some vicious mole of nature in them, (1.4.24)
in their birth--wherein they are not guilty,
nature cannot choose his origin--
the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
by some habit that too much o'er-leavens
form of plausive manners, that these men,
I say, the stamp of one defect,
nature's livery, or fortune's star,-- (1.4.32)
virtues else--be they as pure as grace,
infinite as man may undergo--
in the general censure take corruption
that particular fault: the dram of evil
all the noble substance often dout (1.4.37)
his own scandal."
is ironical, because Hamlet is really talking about himself here. This
quality that he describes is hamartia, the fatal flaw.
defined tragedy as "the imitation of an action
that is serious
also, as having magnitude, complete in itself." It
arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish
the catharsis of
tragic hero will most effectively evoke both our pity and terror if
neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly evil but a combination of both.
tragic effect will be stronger if the hero is "better than we are,"
he is of higher than ordinary moral worth. Such a man is shown as
a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken
to which he is led by his hamartia (his "effort of judgment")
or, as it
often literally translated, his tragic flaw.
common form of hamartia in Greek tragedies was
hubris, that "pride"
self-confidence which leads a protagonist to disregard a divine
or to violate an important law
of a Tragic Hero
tragic hero has the potential for greatness but is doomed to fail. He
in a situation where he cannot win. He makes some sort of tragic
and this causes his fall from greatness. Even though he is a fallen
he still wins a moral victory, and his spirit lives on
BORN INTO NOBILITY:
FOR THEIR OWN FATE
A TRAGIC FLAW
DOOMED TO MAKE
A SERIOUS ERROR IN JUDGEMENT
FALL FROM GREAT
HEIGHTS OR HIGH ESTEEM
HAVE MADE AN IRREVERSIBLE MISTAKE
FACES AND ACCEPTS
DEATH WITH HONOR
MEET A TRAGIC
ALL TRAGIC HEROES THE AUDIENCE IS AFFECTED BY PITY and/or FEAR
dot point definition of tragedy.
point explanation of tragic hero.
the following :