Tragedy Essay

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Kenny Fleming
Mr. Blocker- Period 2
Due: 4/2/12

Tragedy From Afar

Catharsis, the dramatic event that describes the "emotional cleansing" of the general audience, prevails in many tragedies. It provides an extreme change in emotion, as the result of experiencing strong feelings. It has been described as ”purification" or a "purging" of emotions (Aristotle 22). Shakespeare’s Macbeth represented a tragedy, because of the loss and destruction of lives. More specifically, the large-scale destruction and loss that resulted was Macbeth’s rise to power, ruling, and downfall. Arthur Miller's The Crucible illustrates a tragedy due to intense emotional suffering brought on by the accusations of former friends, manipulation, infidelity, and ultimately the death of John Proctor. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jay, the American romantic hero, devotes his life to proving himself worthy of Daisy. He would have sacrificed his freedom and his life for her, yet she couldn’t spare the time to go to his funeral and pay her condolences. While tragedy consists as a powerful medium in books and short stories, there are many real life cases of tragedy as well. For example, a mother, impaired from drinking vodka and smoking marijuana puts children and other innocent people in harms way while driving home from a weekend camping trip. This trip ends in a tragic disaster when she goes the wrong way on a highway and crashes head on with another vehicle. Eight innocent people are killed including four children. Overall, from a book, or from our society today, we, as humans, use tragedy to teach us to learn from the mistakes and misfortunes of others. “Tragedy is a form of drama based on human suffering that allows the audience to experience catharsis or pleasure from the viewing.” The audience, through its viewing of a tragedy, can experience the magnified human emotions brought forth, from a safe distance. Essentially, to see suffering without having to actually suffer is what makes tragedy such a powerful medium. As humans, we may need this so that when faced with suffering of our own we are better prepared.

A tragedy is a story in which the main character, usually a hero, is brought to his downfall. In Macbeth, the main character, Macbeth, despite his infallible attitude is brought to ruin by his flaw, which is his “blind ambition”.  Overall, Macbeth is a man with a flaw that the witches were able to see and use for their own amusement. This ambition is exacerbated by the witches and their prophecies, thus making Macbeth a somewhat sympathetic character. In Macbeth, the audience feels throughout the play that Macbeth’s murders are for his own benefit and are cruel and unjustified. Even though Macbeth feels sorry, guilty and has doubts about what he is doing, he still goes through with these acts, which makes us feel that he should be punished and not rewarded the kingship. As a result, the audience feels the need to rid and “purge” all of these emotions about Macbeth. With the death of Macbeth, the audience finally feels the true meaning of catharsis.
The Crucible’s tragedy, in the larger picture, is the downfall of what appeared to be an innocent, pristine community. In addition to this, Proctor's hanging and the suffering inflicted upon his wife Elizabeth are also tragic. Although Elizabeth is a good moral woman who would protect her husband and family with her own life, she is still falsely accused of witchcraft and imprisoned. At the end of the play, she is left without her loving husband who was everything to her. However, as well as the pain and tragedy that Elizabeth experiences; the larger tragedy revolves around all the innocent people accused of witchcraft who are imprisoned or killed, because of un-trustworthy teenage girls. In the story, the reader is easily able to connect with John Proctor due to the fact that adultery is a common culprit in tragedies today. More specifically,...
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