Shakespeare Tragedy Essay

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Monday, December 27, 2010 Shakespearean Tragedy Introduction: Shakespeare wrote a number of tragedies, the greatest among which are Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and Hamlet. Can the tragic experience as conveyed by Shakespeare in his tragedies be conceptualized into an intellectually coherent system? To generalize, said Blake, was to be a fool. Moreover, Shakespeare himself, as A. C. Bradley observes, had only "a sense for tragedy", not a "philosophy" of it. Nevertheless, we certainly can arrive at a few factors which are shared, more or less, by all the great tragedies of Shakespeare. We can, as Bradley says, be able "to descend on certain well-built principles which underlie almost every Shakespearean tragedy." Let us examine what these common factors are. The Story of One Man: A Shakespearean tragedy is invariably built around one pivotal figure-the hero, who stands as a colossus beside the many other characters of the play. It must be remembered that a Shakespearean tragedy does bring before us a very large number of dramatis personae. Their number is indeed much larger than that of the characters in an ancient Greek tragedy, excluding, of course, the chorus: however the stage-lights always remain focussed on the hero. Other characters also experience ups and downs of fortune like the hero, but their careers remain in the background. It is only in the love tragedies, Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra, that some importance is given to the heroine also : her name is also a part of the title of the tragedy. Elsewhere she is just one of the numerous "minor" characters. In none of his tragedies does Shakespeare pre-eminently concern himself with more than two persons. Forces of the overruling fates, gods, or whatever extra-terrestrial powers that be. Shakespearean tragedy is much less fatalistic in conception. It does not echo the idea expressed in
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