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Tragedy, the Tragic Hero, and the Anti- Hero An Overview.

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Presentation on theme: "Tragedy, the Tragic Hero, and the Anti- Hero An Overview."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tragedy, the Tragic Hero, and the Anti- Hero An Overview

2 Vocabulary you NEED to know from this presentation: Hubris Tragic flaw Hamartia Anti-hero Tragic hero Catharsis Dame Fortune Prose Poetry Narrative Elizabethan Jacobean Medieval Wheel of Fortune Aristotle Tragicomedy Unities

3 Trag·e·dy 1.a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme, typically that of a great person destined through a flaw of character or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to downfall or destruction. 2.the branch of the drama that is concerned with this form of composition. 3.the art and theory of writing and producing tragedies. 4.any literary composition, as a novel, dealing with a somber theme carried to a tragic conclusion. 5.the tragic element of drama, of literature generally, or of life. 6.a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster: the tragedy of war

4 Medieval Tragedy and The Wheel of Fortune The medieval tragedy is a prose or poetic narrative, not a drama. Tragedy was perceived as a reversal of fortune, a fall from a high position. This view of tragedy derives from the Medieval concept of fortune, which was personified as Dame Fortune, a blindfolded woman who turned a wheel at whim; men were stationed at various places on the wheel--the top of the wheel represented the best fortune, being under the wheel the worst fortune. However, the wheel could turn suddenly and the man on top could suddenly be under the wheel, without warning.

5 Elizabethan and Jacobean Tragedy (Named for the reigning Queen Elizabeth and King James, respectively) Many critics and playwrights, such as Ben Jonson, insisted on observing the classical unities of action, time and place (the action should be one whole and take place in one day and in one place). However, it was romantic tragedy, which Shakespeare wrote in Richard II, Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear, which prevailed. Romantic tragedy disregarded the unities (as in the use of subplots), mixed tragedy and comedy, and emphasized action and spectacle.

6 Elizabethan and Jacobean Tragedy cont’d. Shakespeare violated the unities in these ways and also in mixing poetry and prose and using the device of a play- within-a-play, as in Hamlet. The Elizabethans and their Jacobean successors acted on stage the violence that the Greek dramatists reported. The Elizabethan and later the Jacobean playwright had a diverse audience to please, ranging from Queen Elizabeth and King James I and their courtiers to the lowest classes.

7 Elizabethan and Jacobean Tragedy cont’d. A distinctly non-Aristotelian form of tragedy developed during this period was the tragicomedy. In a tragicomedy, the action and subject matter seem to require a tragic ending, but it is avoided by a reversal which leads to a happy ending; sometimes the tragicomedy alternates serious and comic actions throughout the play.

8 Aristotle’s Tragedy Aristotle's ideas about tragedy were recorded in his book of literary theory titled Poetics. In it, he has a great deal to say about the structure, purpose, and intended effect of tragedy.Poetics

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10 “Tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself." "Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments, and it should be written in poetry embellished with every kind of artistic expression."

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12 1. The tragic hero is a character of noble stature and has greatness. This should be readily evident in the play. The character must occupy a "high" status position but must ALSO embody nobility and virtue as part of his/her innate character.

13 2. Though the tragic hero is pre- eminently great, he/she is not perfect. Otherwise, the rest of us-- mere mortals--would be unable to identify with the tragic hero. We should see in him or her as someone who is essentially like us, although perhaps elevated to a higher position in society.

14 3. The hero's downfall, therefore, is partially her/his own fault, the result of free choice, not of accident or villainy or some overriding, malignant fate. In fact, the tragedy is usually triggered by some error of judgment or some character flaw that contributes to the hero's lack of perfection noted above.

15 3. (cont’d) This error of judgment or character flaw is known as hamartia and is usually translated as "tragic flaw" (although some scholars argue that this is a mistranslation). Often the character's hamartia involves hubris (which is defined as a sort of arrogant pride or over-confidence).

16 4. The hero's misfortunate is not wholly deserved. The punishment exceeds the crime. 5. The fall is not pure loss. There is some increase in awareness, some gain in self-knowledge, some discovery on the part of the tragic hero.

17 6. Though it arouses solemn emotion, tragedy does not leave its audience in a state of depression. Aristotle argues that one function of tragedy is to arouse the "unhealthy" emotions of pity and fear and through a catharsis (which comes from watching the tragic hero's terrible fate) cleanse us of those emotions. It might be worth noting here that Greek drama was not considered "entertainment," pure and simple; it had a communal function--to contribute to the good health of the community. This is why dramatic performances were a part of religious festivals and community celebrations.

18 7. Catharsis is the purging of emotional tensions

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20 A main character in a dramatic or narrative work who is characterized by a lack of traditional heroic qualities, such as idealism or courage.

21 The anti-hero's lack of courage, honesty, or grace, his weaknesses and confusion, often reflect modern man's ambivalence toward traditional moral and social virtues. Literary characters that can be considered anti-heroes are: Leopold Bloom in James Joyce's novel Ulysses (1922), Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman (1949), and the protagonists of many of Philip Roth's and Kurt Vonnegut's novels.

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