Structure of a Shakespearean Tragedy

Topics: Tragic hero / Pages: 2 (317 words) / Published: Jan 15th, 2013
1. Exposition: Since Shakespeare’s stage had no central curtain and few stage props, the exposition reveals the setting (time and place) and sometimes highlights a theme; it has the important function of providing the appropriate mood and atmosphere for the play, also acting as a “hook” to engage the audience. Shakespeare rarely introduces his tragic figure at this stage.

2. Inciting Force: An incident that introduces the conflict and sets in motion the rising action of the play.

3. Hamartia (errors of judgement): The tragic figure suffers from a tragic flaw in character. As a result of this flaw s/he makes errors of judgement that are later directly responsible for the hero/ine’s tragic downfall, leading to the catastrophe of the play. At this point the protagonist still seems in control of his/her fate.

4. Crisis: This is the turning point in the fortunes of the tragic protagonist, the consequence(s) of “hamartia” serving to compound the tragic situation. After the crisis the tragic figure seems more controlled by events than in control of them, the situation as a direct result of his/her previous action(s).

5. Tragic Force: Following closely after the crisis, this incident intensifies the downfall of the tragic hero or heroine and sets in motion the falling action or denouement of the play.

6. Moment of Final Suspense: For a brief moment it appears as though the protagonist will actually escape his or her tragic downfall after all.

7. Catastrophe: The death of the protagonist. All of Shakespeare’s tragic figures die, their deaths serving to give a note of finality to tragic plays.

8. Glimpse of Restored Order:
Shakespeare’s tragedies never end with the death of the protagonist; there is always the introduction of a new social order, a new harmony in society. For this reason they are not considered nihilistic or

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