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What's The Matter With Tragedy Essay

894 words - 4 pages

What’s the Matter with Tragedy?
Ever since the eruption of tragedies in early Greek writings with Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, the concept of tragedy was established; all the way up to the Elizabethan times with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the basics have stayed the same. Some may argue that characteristics have either been replaced or taken away, but the truth is the basic aspects have never changed. All the classic tragedies have been read and researched for the purpose of finding the meaning and the lessons they teach to the audience, by arousing pity and fear. Although the two tragedies were written in two completely different times, their themes and tragic heroes are similar. ...view middle of the document...

For example, in Oedipus the King, Oedipus trusts no one, but in Romeo and Juliet the characters show trust in each other, like Friar Laurence or the Nurse. Aristotle implies that, “Such incidents [which arouse pity and fear] have the very greatest effect on the mind when they occur unexpectedly and at the same time in consequence of one another” (Poetic IX.11-12). Aristotle reminds the audience that conflicts in the play can have “the very greatest effect on the mind,” or in this case, trust. In brief, the themes are one of the key basic techniques that bind the two different tragedies together.
Other than the themes of these tragedies from different times, the concept of a tragic hero is similar because they both end up dying, have flaws, and have a high social rank. First off, the tragic heroes in the stories connects these tragedies together when the story ends with the protagonists’ death. Aristotle states that “Tragedy is an imitation...of incidents arousing pity and fear” (Aristotle’s Poetics IX.11-12). This puts an image in the back of the audience’s mind of a fear that acting like a character from one of the plays will cause a horrible consequence that may happen to him. Additionally, a familiar sense of flaws in the tragic heros from both stories is used the same way in both stories. In the play Romeo and Juliet, once Juliet finds out that Romeo killed Tybalt, she says, “Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound? O that de

Hoyt 3
ceit should dwell” (III, ii, 83-84). Juliet’s words show that flaws, like deceit and rash...

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