Tragedy : The Great Mirror Of Real Life Essay

Tragedy : The Great Mirror Of Real Life Essay

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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 of real life - as Aristotle put it “‘the imitation of an action that is serious, and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself’” (Abrams 322) that makes tragedies so seminal in literature and drama. Aristotle argued that tragedies are more culturally important than even histories because while history relates to the reader what has happened, tragedies, and literature as a whole, show us rather than tell us, and allow us to experience what may happen; what is true according to the law of ‘“probability or necessity”’ (McManus). So, it is the collective experience of catharsis and the literary goals aimed for by Greek playwrights such as Sophocles in Oedipus Rex and Aeschylus that has persisted through the time of Shakespeare to the modern world, in plays like Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller. ‘“The pleasure of pity and fear’” (Abrams 322) has motivated us to come to tragedies and be stunned, but feel clean, pure, and even exalted for the entirety of the history of drama.
But like other fo...


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... speaks about our smallness in comparison to the universe - “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty...In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a God...What is this quintessence of dust?” We can gain, from the reading of Hamlet, and in the realization of its theme a sense of the world that is not imparted by many other things in life.
The classification of Hamlet as a tragedy elevates the play to a standard even higher than the one at which it already exists. Hamlet, already a seminal work in literature, becomes, with the truth of its tragedy, part of a seminal series of human works. It is a series that stretches into the mists of the past, when men first began to create not from the outside world, with buildings of stone and marble, but from the inner world. Hamlet is, like these earlier tragedies, a work of the soul.

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