Shakespearean Tragedies

Topics: William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Laurence Olivier Pages: 5 (1777 words) Published: November 8, 2008
William Shakespeare started writing tragedies because he thought the tragic plots of his time were lacking artistic purpose and form. His work was extraordinary in that it was not of the norm for the time. His tragedies focused on the fall of a notable person, with suspense and climax thrown in to capture the attention of the audience. In the plays of Shakespeare, the tragic hero is always a noble man who enjoys some status and prosperity in society but possesses some moral weakness or flaw which leads to his downfall. External circumstances such as fate or supernatural entities also play a part in the hero's fall. Evil agents often act upon the hero and the forces of good, causing the hero to make wrong decisions. Innocent people always feel the fall in tragedies, as well. His most admired tragedies were written in a seven-year period between 1601 and 1608. These include his four major tragedies Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. List of tragedies by William Shakespeare

* Romeo and Juliet
* Macbeth
* King Lear
* Hamlet
* Othello
* Titus Andronicus
* The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
* Antony and Cleopatra
* Coriolanus
* The History of Troilus and Cressida
* The Life of Timon of Athens
* Cymbeline was listed in the First Folio as a tragedy although most modern readers regard it as a romance.

Your browser may not support display of this image.Hamlet is about an emotionally scarred young man trying to avenge the murder of his father, the king. The ghost of Hamlet's father appears to Hamlet, telling him that he was murdered by his brother, Claudius, who has now become the king. Claudius has also married Gertrude, the old king's widow and Hamlet's mother. To buy time to plot his revenge, Hamlet takes on an "antic disposition," acting like a madman and alienating himself from the young woman he loves, Ophelia. His opportunity to publicly reveal Claudius's guilt comes when a troupe of actors come to Elsinore. Hamlet gets them to stage a play which parallels the murder of his father. The play itself reveals that Hamlet knows the truth about his father's death; the king's horrified reaction reveals his guilt. After a series of events, a "sporting" duel between Hamlet and Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, is set up, but Laertes poisons the tip of his sword in order to kill Hamlet during the fight (as he believes that Hamlet had contributed much to Ophelia’s suicide). Meanwhile, Claudius prepares a poisoned cup for Hamlet to drink from. During the fight, Gertrude accidentally drinks from the poisoned cup and collapses. The swords of Hamlet and Laertes are switched, and both Hamlet and Laertes are mortally wounded. Before he dies, however, Hamlet stabs Claudius and also forces him to swallow the poisoned drink.

Your browser may not support display of this image.Othello, revolves around four central characters: Othello, his wife Desdemona, his lieutenant Cassio, and his trusted advisor Iago, the villain of the play who plots revenge against Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio because Othello has promoted Cassio to lieutenant, a position to which Iago feels he is entitled. The action of the play moves to Cyprus, where an anticipated military battle is over before it begins. Iago manages to get Cassio drunk at a celebration where he had strict orders to refrain from drinking and to be on guard. When a fight breaks out (again set up by Iago) and the alarm bell is rung, Othello angrily strips Cassio of his title of lieutenant. Cassio is devastated and humiliated by Othello's action, and Desdemona intervenes on his behalf to convince Othello that Cassio's punishment does not fit his crime. Iago begins to imply to Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. He manipulates Othello and causes him to break into a jealous rage. In the final act of the play, Othello awakens Desdemona and accuses her outright of infidelity. Although she denies his accusation and swears her love...
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