Tragedy Is the Consequence of a Man's Total Compulsion to Evaluate Himself Justly

Topics: Macbeth, Sophocles, Tragedy Pages: 5 (1991 words) Published: April 1, 2011
Question: “Tragedy is the consequence of a man’s total compulsion to evaluate himself justly.” Discuss with reference to two plays.

Tragedy occurs when the tragic hero of a play fails to evaluate himself and sees that he is the main problem and the one that is causing society and the good of mankind to suffer. It is because of his compulsion to evaluate himself justly, that tragedy occurs. Aristotle provided us with a Greek theory of what is tragedy; he defines it as “a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. It is the imitation of an action that is serious and also having with it a magnitude complete in itself. On the other hand the English, Elizabethan, Shakespearian culture had a total different perspective from the Greek. Instead of reporting violence on stage like the Greek, the English would act out the violence in the play. They stated that in tragedy the action should be in one whole and take place in one day and in one place. Tragedy was mixed with other genres such as romance and comedy, emphasis is placed on action, spectacle and increasingly sensation. The idea of tragedy will be given to us in both perspectives, one from Oedipus the King by Sophocles which represents Greek drama and the other which is Macbeth representing the Shakespearian by William Shakespeare. It can be argued that if both tragic heroes had started o asses themselves early from within their respective plays, damage caused to family, friends and love one would have not been so devastating to the point where we see the tragic heroes ultimate demise, where he completely becomes something less than human and destroys himself. Both tragic heroes were first shown to us as of having good qualities. They were seen as good, honorable, brave men, who got glorified for their respective gifts and talents, which was used in great service to mankind and their people or country. Oedipus with the gift to solve riddles saved his people and the land of Thebes by solving the Sphinx riddles and breaking the curse. Macbeth who is excellent on the battle field and posses a unique ability to kill, was glorified for this skill and was granted a new position that is the Thane of Cawdor. However even though at first we see them as good men, what makes them both tragic heroes and the plays, tragedies, is the fall of good men who in turn are destroyed by the very same thing that they were glorified for and that is their respective gifts , skills and talents. In other words we see where because both of them made an error in judgment and due to fate, a reversal of fortune will see them doomed. The first error in judgment that both Oedipus and Macbeth made has to do with how they use information and assess its credibility by judging the source. Oedipus after acknowledging the power of the Gods and announcing that he is in need of the help from the Gods to solve the plague which is affecting his city of Thebes in which he was crowned king of because of saving this city before; it was revealed to him by Teresias that he is indeed the cause of all the unfortunate things which have been affecting the city of Thebes. Macbeth on the other hand was told great news which was pleasing to the ears and thus wanting to believe they were true and because of his ambitions to rise and be the best, he would easily see them come true into reality. This is a classic example of what is known as pathological skepticism that is a tendency to dismiss all claims that contradicts our beliefs. This pathological skepticism goes back to Oedipus when he starts to disrespect Teresias, calling him a fake prophet and a liar, when it was revealed by him that he is the cause of the plague. Oedipus was quick to take offence and threaten Teresias with death if he continues to say such “lies”. He even went further to a point where he accuses his brother in law, Creon of treachery in setting up the whole act in an attempt to steal his crown. The first error of judgment was made by...
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