What is the concept of tragedy?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that you can find many different and indepth answers to such a question.  I would say that there are many different components and analysis of tragedy that is in the literature.  I would like to focus on the Shakespearean scholar, A.C. Bradley's definition of tragedy.   Bradley's definition of tragedy is one where individuals are poised between equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action.  In Bradley's depiction of tragedy, individuals are poised between courses of action that are both desired, but only one can be possessed.  This leaves the protagonist in a painful and agonizing predicament, from which there is little respite.  For example, Hector in Homer's Iliad would meet the Bradley definition of tragedy because he feels loyalty to both his family, his personal desire, and his people of Troy, his duty.  This collision between the values of desire and duty render him in a brutal position, making him a tragic figure.

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