The Importance Of Tragedies In Hamlet

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Tragedies are an inherent part of human culture and drama. They are centered around sadness and death - misfortune and the falling of great characters. Ultimately tragedies were designed to be, and still are (over two and a half millennia after they were created) cathartic. Catharsis means “purification” in Greek, and it is precisely this which is at the center of the tragic power contained in this genre of drama. Catharsis allows us to release emotions, not just in traditional ways but as a group audience. Tragedies, though they show purposefully depressing subject matter, bring us together as a group - we identify with the main character because we have gone through the same things they are experiencing on stage. This is the great mirror…show more content…
Plot is the central framework of the story - it is the center of the tragedy, the sun around which the characters orbit, and the ultimate evolution of drama when considering what tragedy is. In plot, there must be unity of action, significance of theme, and a direct cause and effect between the movement from ignorance to knowledge and the final catharsis, or scene of suffering (McManus). It is clear that Hamlet includes all of these, with few exceptions even inside the play. Hamlet is a whole and complete plot, having a beginning, middle, and ending. The incentive moment is the appearance of Hamlet’s father, the ghost, and his conversation with Hamlet in Act I, scene v.. In the hero’s journey, this scene is ‘the call to action’, and represents the starting off point of the Senecan tradition embodied in the play (remember ghosts, bloodshed, sworn oaths, and action)(Campbell). This scene also precipitates Hamlet’s movement from ignorance of the guilt of his uncle to knowledge of his father’s ‘foul and unnatural murder’ (Shakespeare Act 1 scene 5). In here we have the impetus for the gripping revenge story that follows. Plot-wise, we can feel a rising tension throughout the play. Aristotle’s definition of plot in his theory of tragedy factors in a cause-and-effect phenomenon called desis (McManus). This can be felt in the play, as Hamlet discovers the guilt of his uncle, fights with his mother and acts…show more content…
Hamlet’s character, and the characters of others, are the centers of gravity for the play by William Shakespeare, just as Oedipus and Jocasta are the cores of the Aristotelian tragedy Oedipus Rex. However, it is important for a character to be more than simply the subject of a play to make it a true tragedy. Aristotle’s tragic hero has several important qualities that lend relevance, power and emotion to the cathartic nature of tragedy. Firstly, the tragic character must be consistent, and must measure up to the audience in that they must reflect a picture of life, at least at the beginning. Hamlet measures up to this requirement. At the outset of the play, he is a student (like many of us) temporarily pulled away from school to deal with a loved one’s death. However, tragic characters, as real as they may be made, must also have a certain noble quality about them. This nobility must be of the spirit and be directed outwards to establish the consistency found in tragic heroes. Finally, the largest part of a tragic hero is, of course, the tragedy - as extensive as the hamartia of Oedipus in which he marries his own mother, or as reserved as that of Hamlet - simply being the sufferer of seemingly a million ills. Hamlet has less hamartia than Oedipus in his tragedy - but we can still consider him a tragic hero. Not only does he have the

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