Tragic Notes

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Tragic Notes



Greek Origins

  • Comedies and tragedies both originate from Greece, where they were performed as part of elaborate outdoor festivals.

  • Tragedies were called the “dying ones”

  • Tragedies produce catharsis- a cleansing or purging of emotions

  • The tragic flaw was Hubris- excessive pride that leads a tragic hero to challenge the gods

  • They featured a Chorus – a group of performers who stood outside the action and commented on characters and hinted at events to come

  • NO comic relief – following a serious scene with a lighter humorous one

Tragic Flaw

Tragic Plot

  • Events are set in motion by a decision that is often an error in judgment caused by the tragic flaw

  • Succeeding events linked in a cause-and-effect relationship that leads inevitably to a disastrous conclusion, usually death.

  • In the end, readers and viewers feel a sense of waste, because humans who were in some way superior have been destroyed

Tragic Hero

  • Protagonist or main character in a tragedy

  • Evokes pity and fear;

  • Pity for the hero because of his sufferings

  • Fear for all human beings subject to character flaws and an unknown destiny or fate because the problems and struggles faced by the tragic hero are perhaps a necessary part of human life.

Revenge Tragedy

  • Its plot centers around the tragic downfall or untimely demise of a protagonist caused by his or her pursuit and enactment of revenge

  • Deals with personal vendettas and revenging murders

Elements of a Tragedy (both Greek and Shakespearean)

    1. The tragic hero comes to an unhappy or miserable end.

    2. The tragic hero is generally a person of importance.

    3. The tragic hero exhibits extraordinary abilities and a tragic flaw.

    4. Outside forces or people, known as antagonists, may contribute to the hero's downfall.

    5. A series of casually related events inevitably leads to the catastrophe involving the death of the tragic hero and others.

    6. The tragic hero usually recognizes his or her tragic flaw and gains the audience's sympathy.

    7. The tragic hero meets his or her doom with uncommon courage and dignity, reaffirming the grandeur of the human spirit.

Shakespeare's Major Tragedies

  • Romeo and Juliet - a tale of teenaged lovers from two feuding families in Medieval Verona, Italy.

  • Julius Caesar - focuses on the Roman Emperor Brutus, a close friend of Julius Caesar who reluctantly joins the plot to assassinate him.

  • Hamlet - tells the story of a prince of Denmark whose procrastination leads to disaster.

  • Othello - focuses on a North African soldier whose great flaw is "the green-eyed monster" known as jealousy.

  • King Lear - tells of an aged monarch who fails to distinguish honesty from flattery.

  • Macbeth - a powerful drama about ambition and murder

  • Important Vocabulary To Remember . . .

    • Tragedy

    • Tragic Hero

    • Tragic Flaw

    • Hubris

    • Chorus

    • Catharsis

    • Comic Relief

    • Catastrophe

    • Antagonist

    • Protagonist

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