Universal aspects of Shakespeares tragedies Tragedies share a lot of characteristics- some found in almost all tragedies, others not so universal- but I think that for Shakespeare, the big divider between whats called a comedy and whats called a tragedy is whether it ends with the important sympathetic characters alive and well or with the important sympathetic characters, especially the one the plays named after, dead.
I think the minimum that all tragedies have in common is that someones life gets ruined. Also nice to have in a tragedy: he was a very important person, he dies, its the fault of a specific decision he made, he decided the way he did because of the very aspect of his own character that helped him to greatness in the first place, the audience is struck with pity and terror, it was inevitable, it all happens in a single day.
1) Tragic hero: The hero has to be of a certain status, reason of which will be discussed further on. Characteristic of Shakespeare is the noble hero with a fatal flaw, which will eventually lead to the hero s downfall. E. g: Othello: jealousy, Hamlet: procrastination, Macbeth: ambition, Lear: pride, etc. 2) Circumstance. The hero s downfall comes from the combination of chance/fate/circumstance/supernatural and the tragic flaw which would lead the hero to commit acts that he would otherwise not do. As a consequence, hero suffers, eventually dying. In context of Shakespearean tragedy, hero redeems himself just before death. Fate: very important factor in Shakespearean tragedy. 3) The upset of nature. The hero s status is important. Due to his greatness, the consequences of his actions would reverberate throughout society, natural order in imbalance: notably in Macbeth, Hamlet. 4) Catharsis, beyond the character. We feel a sense of loss and waste at the fate of the tragic hero. With Hamlet, arguably, we feel the loss of idealism, Caesar, the loss of Brutus nobility, Othello, the loss of the sense of greatness, etc. 5) Order must be eventually restored, by the death of the hero. Typical in Shakespeare. Read all the last scenes of all the major tragedies. This criterion is extremely huge actually. But Ill see that, essentially the tragic flaw and the role of fate are the major points of note. It separates the great tragedies from R & J for instance. ...
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