Tragedy! Each of you knows what it is. In real life, tragedy is awful and we pray that none of us have to go through it. But what if we tell you that tragedy plays an important part in drama? With the origin of tragedy, the whole narrative of drama has been changed. It holds such an important place that there are plays written just to depict tragedy. So yes, drama is incomplete without tragedy. This article is going to discuss the characteristics of tragedy in drama. You are going to look at its importance as well. It would be great if you read this article till the end to know about something different.
1. What is the Origin of Tragedy?
Do you know about the origin of tragedy? The tragedy has its origin in the religious and poetic traditions of ancient Greece. The word tragedy is derived from the word tragos, which is a goat, and oide, which means song. There are many explanations as to why a goat is associated with tragedy and one such explanation is that it represents unhappy times.
The first known tragedies were staged as a part of the festival which was known as the City Dionysia, which honored the Greek god Dionysus. The tragedy was expressed through the dithyrambs, chants, songs, and dances. Some characteristics of tragedy in drama have been discussed in the following pointers. (See An Early Renaissance Thinker who studied Classical Literature was?)
2. What is Tragedy in a Drama?
Now you know the origin of tragedy, let’s talk about the tragedy in drama. In drama, tragedy shows the downfall of the protagonist which indicates an unhappy ending. According to Aristotle, Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude…through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions. The tragedy is a branch of drama that treats how terrible or sorrowful events are encountered by a heroic individual in a dignified and serious style. Tragedy precisely refers to a work of art that deals with serious questions that concern the role of a man. Read the following pointers to know about the characteristics of Shakespearean tragedy.
3. What are the 4 Types of Tragedy?
There are 4 types of tragedy which are discussed below.
- Greek tragedy: One of the most popular types of tragedy is the Greek Tragedy. Its main component is a protagonist, who gracefully accepts his downfall after making an error of judgment. Other components include mythology, God, suffering, and catharsis.
- Roman tragedy: Most of the Roman tragedies were adaptations of Greek tragedies. There were 9 famous Roman tragedies, which were written by the Roman philosopher Seneca. Some of these were revenge tragedies.
- Tragicomedy: Tragicomedy was the amalgamation of tragic and comic elements that existed in a single drama.
- Domestic Tragedy: Domestic tragedy originated in the Elizabethan Era. This type of tragedy portrayed the common man in the domestic setting, breaking the previous conventions of tragedy.
4. What is an Example of a Tragedy Drama?
An example of a tragedy drama is Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The first English tragedy was Gorboduc, which was written in 1561 by Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton. See Can Othello be Considered a Tragic Hero?
5. Who is the Father of Tragedy?
Aeschylus is the father of tragedy. He was one of the first dramatists of classical Athens. He is credited with raising the emerging art of tragedy to great heights of poetry and theatrical power. He was born in 525 BCE in the famous site of Eleusinian Mysteries, which was Eleusis. He was a brilliant playwright and an honored veteran of The Persian Wars.
6. What is the Importance of Tragedy?
According to Aristotle, tragedy was important to make the audience believe that the reversal of fortune can happen to anyone, even to them. It was done to evoke pity and fear, but also to establish faith in the supreme entity. Tragedies present moral lessons too. It acts as a catharsis which allows the audience to relieve all the pent-up emotions and feel a sense of comfort and relief. (See What was Odysseus Call to Adventure?)
7. What are the Three Characteristics of Tragedy?
The three characteristics of tragedy in drama are
- Hamartia: Hamartia is the aspect of the character that leads to his ultimate downfall. It is the hero’s tragic flaw.
- Anagnorisis: Anagnorisis happens when the tragic hero identifies something about themselves. It can be some depth to their identity that spurs a change in action.
- Peripeteia: Peripeteia is the reversal of fortune which leads the protagonist towards tragedy. It is a crucial element of tragedy.
8. What are Characteristics of Tragedy in Drama?
The tragedy is recognized by some characteristics which play an important role in the drama. Here are a few of the important characteristics of tragedy in drama.
- The tragedy is always recognized by the unhappy ending of the character and the entire plot.
- The person or the hero that meets with the unhappy ending is someone important in society.
- The hero possesses extraordinary abilities but also a tragic flaw that leads to their downfall.
- There is also an antagonist or outside force which can lead to the downfall of the hero.
- The events preceding the tragedy are interconnected to each other.
- The tragic flaw that the protagonist possesses is recognized by them at the end.
9. What are the Characteristics of Modern Tragedy?
What we have discussed so far are the classical characteristics of tragedy in drama. So here, let’s discuss the characteristics of modern tragedy since the characteristics of modern tragedy are different from the classical ones.
- Modern tragedies are centered around common people and their problems.
- In modern tragedies, fate and divine power do not play a major role.
- There can be more than one central character and multiple plots in modern tragedies.
- Irony and sarcasm are used in modern tragedies to highlight the flaws that are present in the characters.
- The time spans are more realistic in modern tragedies compared to classical tragedies.
10. What are the Main Characteristics of Shakespearean Tragedy?
Shakespeare has given some unforgettable works with an example of a tragedy drama. So, let’s discuss the main characteristics of Shakespearean tragedy.
- The hero or the main character is cursed by fate and has some tragic flaw.
- The struggle between good and evil is present in the character and the plot.
- The good in the play is destroyed at the end along with the bad.
- The external conflict is present which gives rise to the problems faced by the hero.
- There is a role and presence of supernatural elements like magic in the play.
- The ending is unhappy and sad, even for the central character.
- There is also a presence of some humorous characters who are there to lighten the mood of the play.
- The catharsis is an important element in the Shakespearean tragedy which includes the audience’s release of emotions and sympathy for the character.
The understanding of significant and universal truths happens through tragedy. You have also known a major example of tragedy drama and the characteristics of tragedy in drama in the previous pointers, so now you can relate well to its importance. (Also read Why is King Duncan Unhappy with the Thane of Cawdor?)