OUTLINES OF TRAGEDY


Tragedy presupposes:

1. The fundamental worth and dignity of man
2. That man possesses free-will and is responsible for his actions
3. Some superhuman power or force, god or moral order
4. A fundamental orientation towards the problem of evil: tragedy faces squarely the fact of evil in the world and the misery of man's life, and the complexity of this .

N.B. Tragedy does not mean utter defeat for man since man's life is meaningful.

A tragedy has to have :

1. Universality, something we can all identify with.
2. Seriousness, something important at stake, affecting society as well as the individual.
3. Inevitability, not just chance but arising from the characters of the drama.
4. A hero or heroine, tragedy is concerned with the moral choices of the individual under pressure from society and himself.

The Tragic Hero or Heroine: Types and Patterns

1. The fall of the great man or woman: the fall from greatness
2. Love tragedy not a tragedy - one should pick oneself up and restart
3, Morality is not the whole point in spite of the common interpretation of Aristotle's 'hamartia' as 'the fatal flaw'.
4. 'Hamartia' as 'mistaken identity' or 'misunderstood identity'

Two Possible Origins of Tragedy

1. From the ritual sacrifice of the divine and voluntary victim who was a king who died for the fertility of the land and the good of the people.
2. An extended lament pathos from threnos over the situation of an individual hero. Music and dance were included.

N. B. There seems to be no evidence for a real connccticn with Dionysos or goats, even though tragedy was first performed at the Dionysian festivals.

The qualities of the typical tragedy tyrant: (Greek) *

1. Absence of self control
2. Willingness to believe the worst on hearsay evidence
3. Brutality towards the helpless
4. Stupid reliance on physical force as a means of settling spiritual problems.

The four functions of kingship (Greek and Shakespearian)

1. Battle leader
2. Giver of justice
3. Controller of the aristocracy
4. Arranger of the succession

* Kreon in "Antigone" , Oedipus in "Oedipus Tyrannus', Aegisthus in "Electra" (both) , Agamemnon in "Agamemnon" , Pentheus in "Bacchae" , Zeus in "Prometheus Bound" , Theseus in "Hippolytus" , Agamemnon in "Iphigeneia in Aulis" .