The Pattern Of Shakespeare's Tragedies. Essay

1797 words - 7 pages

In all his tragedies Shakespeare represents the tragic aspect of life, the tragic fact. They have up to a certain point a common form or structure, however the question here is: what is Shakespeare's conception of tragedy?Shakespearean tragedy is the story of one person - the hero (or in love tragedies hero and the heroine). The story leads up to and ends in the death of the hero. The story depicts the troubled part of the hero's life which precedes his death. This troubled period usually comes after a period of great prosperity, happiness, or glory. The sufferings and calamity are also exceptional. They befall a conspicuous person.Such exceptional suffering and calamity affecting the hero, and generally extending far and wide beyond him, so as to make the scene a tale of woe are the chief source of tragic emotions. It makes us feel that a man is blind and helpless in the hands of a nameless power that appears to smile on him for a while and then strikes him down in his pride. Such was the medieval conception of a tragedy. Shakespeare's idea of tragedy is larger than this idea and goes beyond it:a. All Shakespeare's heroes are men in high estate and we must agree that it is true that the pangs of despised love and the anguish of remorse are the same in a peasant and a prince but the story of a prince, the triumvir, or the general, has a greatness and a dignity of its own. His fate affects the welfare of the whole nation and when he falls suddenly from the height of his greatness to the dust, this produces a sense of contrast of the powerlessness and omnipotence which no tale of private life can rival.b. The calamities of tragedy do not simply happen nor are they sent. They proceed mainly from the actions of men. We see a number of people placed in certain circumstances and we see a tragedy arising from the cooperation of these circumstances and the actions issuing from their character. A series of inter-connected deeds leads by an apparently inevitable (it is inevitable) sequence to a catastrophe. The hero always contributes to the disaster in which he perishes. Now, to say that with Shakespeare "character is destiny" is to err, for many of his tragic personages would never have ended tragically had they not been put in certain circumstances. Therefore, the interaction of circumstances and actions issuing from character is the center of the tragedy.c. There are additional factors that contribute to the downfall of the hero:1. Abnormal conditions of the mind: madness, somnambulism, hallucinations. However, these conditions are not the origin of deeds: Macbeth doesn't kill the king because he sees the dagger in the air but he sees the dagger because he is about to kill the king. Had Lear been mad when he divided the kingdom and Hamlet been actually mad at any time in the story, they would be no tragic characters?2. The supernatural. This element contributes to the action and could be said in more than one instance to be the essential part in it....

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