Genre is a term that is used to classify or describe a type or form of literature. While this sounds like a simple concept, it in actuality is a very complicated classing system. The reason for the complication is that literature does not always follow the typical characteristics set up by that type of genre. For example, one of the characteristics in the genre of tragedy is that there is a tragic hero, who is in a position of power. In the classical tragedy this is true, as can be seen in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex because the tragic hero is Oedipus, who is the king of Thebes. In the Renaissance tragedy this is not always the case such as in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the tragic hero is only a prince. Where this characteristic is completely abandoned is in the modern tragedy by Eugene O'Neill, Desire Under the Elms, where the character playing the tragic hero is a farmer and it is difficult to determine which character is the true tragic hero. Yet all these plays are tragedies, despite their variations . Another aspect of genre that makes the concept difficult to define is that there are parts of plays that fall into other genres. An example of this is seen in parts of Desire Under the Elms, such as the party scene at the Cabot home. Although this play is a tragedy, in this scene there is comedy occurring in the witty remarks from the partiers and in the silly jig Ephraim dances. As one can see the simple concept of genre poses many complications when utilized to define a piece of literature.
Genre is divided into two categories, which are representational genre and narrative genre. The first category, representational genre, consist of the "number and types of voices" in the piece of literature. (handout) There are three types of representative genre. The first type is Narrator, which is when one speaker talks directly to the audience and that speaker is responsible for telling the whole story to the audience without the aid of other opinions or sides...
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