Explain using three main points why Match Point by Woody Allen either is a true Shakespearean tragedy or not. 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the scope of the film seeks to embrace elements of Shakespearean tragedy.  Like Macbeth, there is an exploration of the definition of human morality.  Similar to the narrative of the throne of Scotland, the film explores whether or not personal ambition can effectively usurp ethical treatment of another.  Chris and Macbeth are similar in how both envision a goal that is temporal in nature.  Chris seeks financial security and then sexual fulfillment, while Macbeth seeks political power.  As both engage in murder to accomplish their end goal, both are seen as having to wrestle with the moral implications of their actions.  Similarly, both Chris and Macbeth display "that which comes from an evil deed will blossom" in doing more evil to extend the original evil act.  Chris has to kill Mrs. Eastby and lie in order to cover up his crimes, while Macbeth has to murder more people in order to keep his political control of the throne.  Finally, the ending to Chris' narrative does not really reinforce any type of moral order, reflective of the Shakespearean notion of tragedy where "'tis all in pieces."  Macbeth's ending is equally unsettling in that one can only be left to survey the damage that Macbeth has wrought in his desire for power. To an extent, neither ending leaves the viewer or audience with that much of hope or redemption.

With all this in mind, I think that there is one significant difference between Shakespearean tragedy and what Allen has put forth in Match Point.  Shakespeare uses his tragedy to find some level of moral redemption in the world.  The Shakespearean tragedy features the individual having to assume the moral center of being in the world.  Even in the unsettling ending that is featured in Macbeth, the reality is that evil is stopped and, to an extent, there is redemptive punishment delivered to those who have violated the moral order of the world. Lady Macbeth dies, after having initiated the dastardly plot, and is punished with her guilt.  Macbeth has descended into moral oblivion, but is still stopped and thus, there is some order restored into the world.  This same idea is present in Shakespearean tragedy.  In the absence of a divine figure that renders order into the world, human beings act as that force.  Allen's work does not features this.  

In more of a Modernist conception, Chris finds that the murder has been pawned off on another individual and that the birth of his child means he has accomplished his goal of entering into a wealthy family of name and prominence.  This is one significant difference between Allen's construction of tragedy and a Shakespearean one.  For a more Shakespearean type of ending in a tragic condition,  I would suggest examining Allen's work, Cassandra's Dream.   The title not only echoes the Greek prophetess of doom, but embraces a more Classical construction of tragedy where Shakespearean elements are more evident in its resolution.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In some ways, Match Point mirrors a Shakespearean tragedy. Chris Wilton, the main character, wavers between choosing good or evil and chooses evil. While being married to one woman, he embarks on an affair with another and then kills his mistress when he finds out she is pregnant and wants him to be with her to raise their child. In addition, Chris, like Shakespearean characters, is cursed with "hamartia," a fatal flaw. In his case, it is his desire to be married and to still conduct an affair. He is covetous and duplicitous. There are also supernatural elements in the movie, as there are in Shakespearean tragedies, as Chris sees visions of his dead mistress and the woman he killed during a staged burglary.

However, Match Point is unlike a Shakespearean tragedy in that Chris is able to get away with his crime, and he does not suffer as a result. While his mistress and an innocent woman are killed, he is unscathed. In a Shakespearean tragedy, the fallen hero is punished.