An Illustration of the Five Acts of a Shakespearean Tragedy Essay

An Illustration of the Five Acts of a Shakespearean Tragedy Essay

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All Shakespearean tragedies contain five acts that follow a certain format. The opening act is known as the exposition. The exposition “exposes” background information about the play. Following the exposition is the complication. The complication is the second act, and contains rising action. This act is also supposed to mess things up and “complicate” them. Following the complication is the third act. The third act is the highpoint with no return. This act is also known as the climax. After the climax is the resolution. The resolution is act fourth act. This act is an attempt to resolve previous problems created in the third act. The resolution also begins to bring about the conclusion. Lastly is the fifth and final act called the catastrophe. The catastrophe is a great tragedy that ends the story. Most plays do not end with a catastrophe; but that is how William Shakespeare chose to end Julius Caesar, along with all of his other tragic plays.
Act I begins with a festival known as Lupercalia. As the scene opens, a sense of mood is provided. That is very fitting for this act because it is the exposition. The exposition is expected to provide background information, as well as “expose” the mood. Not only is the mood exposed, but so are the feelings of the people. Learning the peoples feeling’s gives a big clue on what actions are to expect from them. Also, knowing how people feel toward an upcoming action in the play, gives a better understanding of what they may do.
Act II gives a sense that something bad is about to happen. The scene begins with Brutus contemplating an important question, in the middle of the night. Right away this scene foreshadows that something bad is about to happen. Considering scene II is the complicat...


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...ured by Antony’s troops. When Cassius heard that, he asked to be stabbed. From there only more bad news came about. Then Brutus went around asking all of his friends to stab him. Many refused, but one finally agreed to hold the sword out. The worst part about Brutus’ death is that he did al that he did, for the good of Rome. He was even considered to be the noblest Roman of them all!
Shakespeare has a very clever way of writing tragedies by always using the same five acts; exposition, complication, climax, resolution and catastrophe. From the background information, to the rising action, followed by the climactic act, which is attempted to be resolved, and results in the catastrophe. The format is an interesting technique that keeps the reader indulged. Julius Caesar was just one of the many tragic plays that William Shakespeare wrote using this technique.

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