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what are similarities and differences between shakespearean tragedy and classical...

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baisakhiriki | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 19, 2012 at 11:52 AM via web

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what are similarities and differences between shakespearean tragedy and classical tragedy?

 

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salimj | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 20, 2012 at 6:03 AM (Answer #1)

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In fourth century B.C., Aristotle, in his work the Poetics, gave Western civilization a definition of tragedy which has greatly influenced writers of tragedy and the form of tragedy over twenty-four centuries.According to Aristotle a tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of an action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation for these emotions.In other words a tragedy must generate pity and fear among the readers or the spectators. This pity and fear will create a kind of catharsis effect. For this the hero must be flawless and the tragedy must be not because of the weakness of the protagonist.

But in the sixteenth century A.D. Shakespeare started writing tragedies keeping most of the characteristics of the definition of the classical tragedy by Aristotle. In Shakespearean tragedies we see an action which is complete and serious. But there is a major difference in the generation of fear and pity. Here the down fall of the protagonist is caused because of his own tragic flaw. When a man suffers because of his own mistake there may not be much pity and fear in the mind of the reader. In order to elaborate this we can discuss two plays: one of the classical tragedy and the other or Shakespearean tragedy.

 In Macbeth, you almost might say that Macbeth’s downfall arose entirely from his weakness. He vaguely wanted something and then he went about it all the wrong way. The audience doesn't like him in the first place, so they do not see him as a hero and do not feel sympathy or fear. What they feel instead is contempt. He faced his own lust for power and he wasn't able to stand up to it. His own lust defeated him. So there really isn't any catharsis when everything go wrong.

 Let us take the example of one classical tragedy: Oedipus Rex. In this play the reason for the down flaw of Oedipus is because of the external factors. In many ways he and people related to him tried to do away with this curse but fate was behind him. Here the readed really feels pity and fear.

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aimal | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 19, 2012 at 4:20 PM (Answer #2)

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Tragedy is written to explain man’s fallibility. It appears that today’s perception of tragedy and the tragic hero tremendously differs from those of the classical and the Shakespearean ages,Though classical tragedy sees man’s misfortune as largely caused by the gods while Shakespearean tragedy perceives it as mainly self-inflicted, both portray the tragic hero as a man of rank and stature.     Tragedy is on the whole man’s attempt to explain the misfortune that befalls him. The classical period sees this phenomenon as mainly as a punishment by the gods for human frailty; the Shakespearean period perceives it to be largely caused by man himself; .  The classical concept of tragedy is largely influenced by the 5th century BC Greek’s religious and heroic ideals; the Shakespearean, by the 16th century Englishman’s heroic outlook;  If both the classical and the Shakespearean require him to be noble in both rank and character, the modern portrays him as someone who though low-stationed nevertheless has stature. The concept of tragedy is an outgrowth of the socio-politico-economic and religious conditions of the time. Thus, though the tragic terms employed at present are still the same ones used by Aristotle, their meanings have nevertheless radically changed. Such changes in perception are rooted in the fact that the times and the nature of societies are constantly evolving.The contention that tragedy does not and cannot exist in the modern times is erroneous.classical period sees this phenomenon as mainly a punishment by the gods- which comes in the guise of fate- for human frailty; the Shakespearean period perceives it to be largely caused by man himself; classical tragedy centers on a man of noble rank and character whose downfall is decreed by fate or the gods; Shakespearean tragedy focuses on a man or rank and stature whose misfortune and eventual death is largely personally inflicted- for having an all consuming greed for power; The classical and the Shakespearean tragedy are basically the same, for both are concerned with the downfall of a man of noble rank and stature. However, the former explains the downfall of the hero as will of the gods while the latter shows it as largely self-inflicted. Both types employ verse aside from certain other dramatic conventions of their particular ages to achieve dramatic effectiveness.

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salimj | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 20, 2012 at 6:04 AM (Answer #3)

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In fourth century B.C., Aristotle, in his work the Poetics, gave Western civilization a definition of tragedy which has greatly influenced writers of tragedy and the form of tragedy over twenty-four centuries.According to Aristotle a tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of an action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation for these emotions.In other words a tragedy must generate pity and fear among the readers or the spectators. This pity and fear will create a kind of catharsis effect. For this the hero must be flawless and the tragedy must be not because of the weakness of the protogonist.

 

But in the sixteenth century A.D. Shakespeare started writing tragedies keeping most of the characteristics of the defenition of the classical tragedy by Aristotle. In Shakesperian tragedies we see an action which is complete and serious. But there is a major difference in the generation of fear and pity. Here the down fall of the protogonist is caused because of his own tragic flaw. When a man suffers because of his own mistake there maynot be much pity and fear in the mind of the reader. Inorder to ellaburate this we can discuss two plays: one of the classical tragedy and the other or shakespearian tragedy.

 

In Macbeth, you almost might say that Macbeth’s downfall arose entirely from his weakness. He vaguely wanted something and then he went about it all the wrong way. The audience doesn't like him in the first place, so they do not see him as a hero and do not feel sympathy or fear. What they feel instead is contempt. He faced his own lust for power and he wasn't able to stand up to it. His own lust defeated him. So there really isn't any catharsis when everything go wrong.

 

Let us take the example of one classical tragedy: Oedipus Rex. In this play the reason for the down flaw of Oedipus is because of the external factors. In many ways he and people related to him tried to do away with this curse but fate was behind him. Here the readed really feels pity and fear.

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