The Evolution of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms

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The Evolution of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms

There are many genres of literature. Because of the age of this genre, it stands to reason that many variations have occurred throughout the years to make it reflect that time period. The genre of tragedy tends to be considered great because it occurs during great periods of history, it is about great men, and it is written by great writers.> The evolution of tragedy and the characteristics of tragedy are exemplified in the comparison of Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms.

In the comparison of Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms the characteristics of tragedy are revealed. One characteristic is that tragedy appears during great times in history. It is thought that tragedy only occurs during great times in history because the people during those times have a sense of confidence that they can handle the horror of tragedy. Oedipus Rex was written during ancient Greece, which is considered the birthplace of the western culture. Ancient Greece is a time of great enlightenment in all of the arts, so it is not surprising that this is one of the beginnings of the tragedy. During this time Greece is rising in power so the people could enjoy watching others face hard times. Hamlet was written during another great period of history, the Renaissance. During this time people are moving out of the Middle Ages into a time of enlightenment, where a rebirth of interest in the arts occurs. This time also is marked by a confidence in one having a prosperous future and the country as a whole looking toward a good life. Finally, Desire Under the Elms appeared during what is called the Modern period. The Modern period is anot...

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...e determined. All three of these plays are great tragedies even if not all of them follow the characteristics of tragedy. It further proves that each period must make their own personal mark on the ideas of the arts in order to establish themselves as a distinct and great time period. [very good pick-up of earlier point] Without the evolution of these ideas, cultures would be stifled in the creative process and not stand out as an individual expressing the feelings of their time period.

Works Consulted:

O'Neill, Eugene. Desire Under the Elms. In Nine Plays by Eugene O'Neill. New York: Modern Library, 1941.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet. ca. 1600-1601. Ed. Edward Hubler. A Signet Classic. New York: Penguin Publishers,1963.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. The Oedipus Cycle. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald, trans. San Diego: Harvest, 1976
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