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Tragedy Notes

By ilikepie1125 Feb 24, 2013 463 Words

Simple definition:
A hero’s fall in a world of good and evil

Classical definition:
Aristotle – Ars Poetica (Poetic Arts)
* Tragedy is serious
* Hero is engaged in a conflict
* Hero experiences great suffering
* Hero is defeated and dies

Tragedies involve…
* A faulty or corrupt society
* Tragic hero
* Tragic flaw
* Mistaken choice of action
* Catastrophe
* Discovery

Tragedy arouses in the audience the emotions of pity and fear * Producing in the audience an catharsis of emotion

Tragedy reaffirms the fundamental order of the universe

Faulty or corrupt society
* Characters that are more “wicked” than the hero

Tragic Hero
* Neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly evil
* “better than us” in the sense that the hero is of a higher social status or of higher moral virtue * Suffers a change of fortune as a result of a mistaken choice of action (the hero has free will) * Treated by the author, poet, or playwright with dignity and respect * Usually, the audience will sympathise with the tragic hero

Tragic Flaw
* An error in judgement resulting from ignorance or human weakness, contributing to the downfall of the tragic hero * Sometimes takes the form of a metaphorical “blindness”, or an inability to see things clearly * One common tragic flaw is “hubris”

* Pride or overconfidence which leads the tragic hero to ignore a divine warning or violate an important moral law

Mistaken choice of action
* Usually related to, or caused by, the “tragic flaw” * Will prove harmful to someone that is so close to the tragic hero that it is as if he/she is harming him/herself

* Severe misfortune, usually unexpected
* Disaster, accident, adversity, blow, calamity, cataclysm, etc.

* The hero discovers the mistake, suffers, and dies for it

The strength of will to achieve greatness or attempt the impossible sets the tragic hero apart from ordinary humanity * This is meant to inspire us with a vision of human potential * Such a vision admits the possibility of great goodness or great evil

What is the purpose of tragedy?
* The purpose of suffering in tragedy suggests that only through suffering does a person attain wisdom * Tragedy arouses in the audience pathos (pity and fear)
* Tragedy produces in the audience a catharsis
* Catharsis: feeling or purging emotion cleansing and purification (e.g. a good cry) * Tragedy reaffirms the basic order of the natural universe * It eliminates a mistaken understanding of this order, to which the audience is, at first, sympathetic to and later threatened by

Tragedy responds to questions about the ultimate meaning of life * Why are we here?
* Can life have meaning in the face of so much suffering and evil in the world? * Does death render the protagonist’s life and goals meaningless?

Tragedy pushes the individual to the outer limits of existence where one must live or die by one’s convictions

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