Thus it may be reasonable to believe that this drama meant to illuminate the faults that could lead to downfall in the ancient world, and even to caution against them. The unpredictable influences destiny and divinity surely played a role in Oedipus' decline, but just as significant a contribution to the tragic predicament came from his own failings. Works Cited: Sophocles. “Oedipus the King.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th ed.
According to Aristotle, there are certain rules which make a tragedy what it is. After discussing the rules of an Aristotelian tragedy, we will try to learn whether Shakespeare's Macbeth is classified as such. We will find that although Macbeth is considered a tragedy among many people, it does not meet the requirements of an Aristotelian tragedy. Aristotle's definition of a tragedy consists of several points. "A tragedy, then is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, where-with to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions."
Ludwig Tieck’s novella, Eckbert the Fair, presents a certain ambiguity of moral values. The story meets a tragic ending where the main couple of the fairytale, Eckbert and Bertha, die as punishment for their crimes of betrayal, theft, and murder. However, an uneasy feeling of injustice remains about the punishment despite the clarity of their guilt. The tale itself strongly resembles a tragic play defined by Aristotle, but the narrative deviates from the structure of standard tragedy. In effect, the unique set-up of the narrative makes the evil deeds seem ultimately inevitable.
That said, in order to produce a tragedy, it is necessary to have a tragic hero. In his work, The Poetics, Aristotle sets forward characteristics that all tragic heroes should share. Included are hamartia, peripeteia, anagnorisis, and an over the top consequence. Hamartia, or the hero's tragic flaw, is “his error or transgression or (as some translators would have it) his flaw or weakness of character” (“Aristotle's” 858). Peripeteia, is the reversal of his fortune, or in other words, the tragic thing that happens to him.
Jocasta as the Victim of Oedipus the King The play Oedipus the King by Sophocles has often been described as the story of a “tragic hero.” This story is indeed tragic; however, Oedipus is not the only character stricken by tragedy. Equally stricken may be the character of Jocasta. She, as well as Oedipus, suffers many tragedies throughout the story. Shifting the story to a different perspective quite possibly may increase how we view it. The point is not to denounce Oedipus’ role as a tragic hero, but to denounce his role as the only tragic character.
In the Elizabethan Era, society was highly suspicious of the power of supernatural forces and it was commonly accepted that one’s life was governed by fate and was predetermined. Shakespeare’s Macbeth challenges the Elizabethan ideology of fate by privileging that although Macbeth was a victim of his “vaulting ambition” (1:VII 27), he was ultimately responsible for his villainous actions. Shakespeare has foregounded certain events to privilege that a person has free will and a concience and the cosequences of going against one's conscience, thus challenging the assumption of the Elizabethan Era. The audience is invited to sympathise with the protagonist, Macbeth, and see him as a tragic hero. Before his descent into evil, Macbeth exhibits noble qualities qualities, such as loyalty, bravery and the capacity to love, which invites the audience to respect and identify with him.
This was known as a catharsis. Aristotle also introduced the idea that the protagonist has a 'hamartia', a defect in character that leads to his eventual destruction. Is the tragic outcome of Romeo and... ... middle of paper ... ...character in the protagonists. Fate couldn't be avoided, but if the protagonists had done things differently, the outcome of the play wouldn't be as tragic. One often wonders if the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet could have been avoided , without the seemingly vital need for bloodshed.
King Lear as an Arthur Miller Tragedy If we seek to justify Shakespeare's King Lear as a tragedy by applying Arthur Miller's theory of tragedy and the tragic hero, then we might find Lear is not a great tragedy, and the character Lear is hardly passable for a tragic hero. However, if we take Aristotle's theory of tragedy to examine this play, it would fit much more neatly and easily. This is not because Aristotle prescribes using nobility for the subject of a tragedy, but, more importantly, because he emphasizes the purpose of tragedy -- to arouse pity and fear in the audience, and thus purge them of such emotions. Arthur Miller, in his famous 1949 essay, "Tragedy and the Common Man," states the following as the nature of the tragic hero: …The tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing -- his sense of personal dignity. …The underlying struggle is that of individual attempting to gain his "rightful" position in his society.
(1) A hamartia may be simply an intellectual mistake or an error in judgement. For example when a character has the facts wrong or doesn't know when to stop trying to get dangerous information. (2) Hamartia may be a moral weakness, especially hubris, as when a character is moral in every way except for being prideful enough to insult a god. (Of course you are free to decide that the tragic hero of any play, ancient or modern, does not have a hamartia at all). The terms hamartia and hubris should become basic tools of your critical apparatus.The Concept of Tragedy:The word tragedy can be applied to a genre of literature.
Firstly, the witches’ prophecy ignited Macbeth 's desire to be king. The temptation that follows Macbeth’s knowledge of the prophecy is a major factor which leads Macbeth to succumb to the evil that leads to his downfall. The witches represent darkness, chaos and conflict, allowing Macbeth to acknowledge his personal dilemma; his hunger for power. Macbeth also admits to himself that he is driven by temptation, "This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill cannot be good." Macbeth tries to justify his bad idea, and goes along with Shakespeare’s technique of using contradictory statements or contrasting to show the unnatural or supernatural beings in the play.