The Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Tragedy Essay

The Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Tragedy Essay

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Re-evaluating Tragedy
Fifth century Athens created the institutionalisation of tragedy as an art form throughout the polis. Originating as Dionysian celebrations through masks, dithyrambs and dance, tragedy developed into an architectural form for playwrights, namely Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, to encapsulate the struggle of the human condition in its attempts to reconcile good and evil existence.

Aristotle deconstructed tragedy and its form into the “imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude”. Consequently, there emerged the four intrinsic elements: the plot, the tragic emotions, the catharsis of fear and pity and the discovery of the whole structure of the artistic representation.

Compared to Aristotle’s stricter definition, modern philosophers developed the genre of tragedy into an intellectual philosophy on the human and universal psyche. Hegel surmised that tragedy was an isomorphic exfoliation of the social and individual consciousness, allowing a character and thereby the audience to deconstruct and revive themselves through their struggles. For Nietzsche, tragedy was the artistic outburst of nature, the incarnation of the mythic figure Dionysus that vied against the rational world, the restraint of the Apollonian society. Thence, Nietzsche envisaged the rebirth of tragedy as a mythic narrative needed in a time of mankind’s loss of scientific fascination and return to the ecstasy of the Dionysian ecstasy and chaos.

This becomes most pertinent with the modern 20th century as the broadening of the tragic genre coincides with the progressive loss of religious faith, the scientific destruction of the universe through war and its consequent restructuring whereby individuality rema...


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...egration of the success myth and ergo his identity, Willy cannot abandon the myth without reducing himself to a mere nothing. This is paralleled in the chiasmic foreshadowing of death in the structure, whereby Willy’s attempt to crash his car is actualised in the denouement. It is through this predicament that Miller establishes the duality of life and death that existential mythology precipitates. Willy’s suicide as the denouement becomes an inescapable reminder not only of the mortality that humanity shares, but the memory and accomplishments of Willy in his blind adherence to the American dream had been gratuitous. For Willy, existence did not precede essence, when his worth was calculated only by prosperity and toil, rendering a futile life. The poignancy of this challenges the audience to examine their own existence according to their pervading cosmic mythology.

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