Elizabethan Tragedy Analysis

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First, the Greek tragedy introduces a new type of production. Instead of telling what has already happened, which previous plays had done, the Greeks began to show what may happen. At this point, the plot was quite straightforward. The tragic hero causes his own demise; however, the playwright follows the hero’s downfall with a purging of pity and fear, called catharsis. Centuries later, Elizabethan theatre gained popularity. Shakespeare was the pinnacle of this era; he even invented his own genre of tragedy: the Elizabethan revenge tragedy. Even so, many of his tragedies build upon ideologies founded in Greek theatre. His tragedies also consisted of a tragic hero whose demise brought about a purging of emotions such as pity and fear. Within…show more content…
For instance, how background information is presented and moods are set has transformed between different forms of tragedies. Originally, Greek tragedies utilized Chorus to provide background information or set the tone of the play. In Antigone, the chorus recounted the story of Polonius’s battle and expressed the conflict of Antigone as she debates suicide. However, in Elizabethan tragedies, this chorus was removed, for it was far too unrealistic that a band of people would sing the emotions of the characters. Thus, the playwrights of that period utilized soliloquies to express the inner turmoil of characters. When the character was alone, they would speak to themselves, talking out their thoughts. In Macbeth, Macbeth has a long soliloquy in which he debates killing King Duncan. Yet in modern tragedies, these soliloquies are eliminated. Instead, the actors and the technical aspects of the play set the tone. For example, in the first scene of A Streetcar Named Desire, instead of speaking her thoughts once she’s alone, Blanche “sits in a chair very stiffly...she pours half a tumbler of whiskey and tosses it down” (18). She is completely silent until another character arrives; her body language and actions tell the audience that she’s stressed and has been through quite a bit. She also continuously hides from the light,…show more content…
With the Greeks, while pity and fear were felt for these characters throughout the play, by the end these emotions were purged. The demise of the tragic hero restores order to the play, leaving the audience and other characters relieved, a technique known as catharsis. In Antigone, Creon feels guilt for his ignorance; therefore, the audience feels relieved knowing he will suffer for his mistakes. In Elizabethan tragedies, the same process occurs. In Macbeth, the audience feels pity towards those who Macbeth has killed, and they also fear his greed. Thus, they feel relieved once Macduff kills him and takes the throne, restoring moral order. In modern tragedies; however, the catharsis is not quite as strong due to the complex nature of the ending. There is some relief, because when Kowalski’s remove Blanche from their household, all problems associated with her vanish. Also, because Stella sends her somewhere where she can supposedly get help, the audience can feel relieved. However, the audience still feels fear because Stanley faced no consequences for his immoral actions, and Stella somewhat feels pity towards her sister for sending her away. In the end, Stella wonders, “Oh, God, what have I done to my sister?” (141). She knows in her heart that she is not sending her to a better place, but she has no choice if she wants to preserve the stability of her life. The last few seconds of the play
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