Do tragic stories have a greater universal appeal than pleasant stories?Do tragic stories have a greater universal appeal than pleasant stories?

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like this question and have tossed it back and forth before...

My response can be formulated like this:

Tragedy = truth. Comedy = Pleasant Lies.

It seems to me that most of us have a tendency to believe that when we face things that are unpleasant and accept them, we are accepting the truth. The logic goes like this: Because something is unpleasant, in order for us to accept it at all, it must be true. (There may be some passion for nobility in believing that pain is more true than pleasure, which, to me, lends suspicion to this whole tendency.)

Fantasy, on the other hand, is often pleasant. We don't have to work to believe good things about ourselves. We are perfectly willing, in other words, to fool ourselves into thinking we are good people, that we are happy, or that everyone likes us. We are willing because happy thoughts make us feel good and believing them requires no strength of will.

This is erroneous reasoning, of course, and it does not stand the test of logic nor of experience. Yet this reasoning endures.

Personally, as a writer, I have striven to believe that truth is as pleasant as it is unpleasant. Happiness is as real as sadness. And it doesn't matter which takes more strength to accept.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This will be a tough one based solely on what an individual feels about the notion of tragic and comic literature.  On one hand, I think that there is an appeal towards comic literature, or narratives that feature happy endings.  Yet, in my mind, I think that there is a greater universality in tragedy.  I feel this because there is greater human appreciation for what it is to lose and to feel pain.  The ancient and modern definitions of tragedy are ones that speak to the nature of the human experience.  Works that embody these ideas can find greater universal appeal because their construction is one that seeks to speak to the predicament of consciousness.  The idea of equally desireable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action and appropriating the world in accordance to subjectivity are both human elements.  These ideas are universal, able to apply regardless of economic condition or other social stratification.  Seeing literature in this light makes it so that works constructed with these ideas in mind are, by their very nature, universal and applicable to what it means to be human.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a difficult question to answer. Given that everyone has different ideals and likes regarding literature, one can not simply make such a generalized statement.

As for my own personal take, I love the tragedies. They offer elements which speak to the reality of the world--some people are simply mean and devious. The tragic play does not sugar-coat the truth about the world.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
There's an old saying, "better him than me." Basically, people are happy to learn about others' problems and be grateful they don't have them. On the other hand, we can also learn more about the world and about ourselves from reading about tragedy, and experiencing it by proxy.
danielle615 | Student

This is all in opinion. Pleasant stories are so predictable because the characters go through a rough patch in a relationship then fix it...THE END. But tragic stories are better I think just because they are sometimes unpredictable, obviously something bad happens but it makes it an enjoyable read with a twist.

alliejson | Student

I personally find stories with more of a "dark side" more fascinating. As a general question for the universe though, I would say most people want to read about something that can bring them joy instead of despair, because it may give them a distraction from their own lives. To me though, tragic stories add more of a realistic tone to a book, but i can agree, that I usually root for that happy ending!

arisha14 | Student
arisha14 | Student
According to my perspectives, audiences are appealed more by plesasant stories because it gives them new ray of hope, a much better and positive way of thinking and grasping materialistic topics whereas tragic stories leave one dumb-folded and have a bad, long-lasting impact. This may effect a person mentally and spiritually. But it varies person to person. I have my way of thinking, others have their.
monoman | Student

yup!!! people eat meat more then vegetables..and thts change thier minds and makes them a bit cruel then the past!!! :D