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What is the difference between Greek tragedy and Shakespearean tragedy?  

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haani | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:39 PM via web

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What is the difference between Greek tragedy and Shakespearean tragedy?

 

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:09 AM (Answer #1)

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Whereas the plots of Greek tragedies and Shakespearean tragedies can be fairly similar, consideration of the actors and staging will yield some of the main differences.

Greek tragic actors wore masks that covered their entire faces, whereas Shakespeare's players did not. Greek tragedies also had a smaller number of actors who spoke in a single scene than in Shakespeare’s plays. In a typical scene from a Greek tragedy, it is fairly rare for more than two actors to speak to one another. Shakespeare’s tragedies also lack the twelve to fifteen member chorus found in the earlier Greek tragedies.

The theaters themselves were also different. How much of a stage was present in ancient Greece is a matter of debate. The primary acting space in a Greek theater seems to have been the orchestra, a large circular space that frequently had an altar in the middle of it. This is not the case in Shakespearean theater. Also, Greek plays were always staged outdoors and during the day. Again, Shakespearean tragedies could be performed in indoor theaters.

We should also note that Greek tragedies were performed as part of religious festivals devoted to the god Dionysus. Shakespearean tragedies do not have this religious alignment.

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