“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.” - Aristotle
Catastrophe Catastrophic conclusion Catastrophe seems inevitable Occurs because of human protagonist’s limitations Suffering Protagonist suffers Suffering seems disproportionate to guilt/blame Suffering is usually redemptive (learning and/or responsibility)
Qualities Neither all good nor all evil If somehow superior, tragedy is intensified Disastrous end results from mistaken action, arising from tragic flaw or error in judgment Flaw may be hubris (excessive pride) Audience pities the tragic hero Suffering > offense Audience feels they could behave similarly
Definition The central idea or message of a work of literature A perception about life or human nature shared with the reader Good themes are universal – they are applicable across time and cultures Never described by one word (Love is not a theme; what the author says about love is.)
Hunger for power Friendship Ambition Vanity Envy Revenge Note: These theme descriptors are not themes. You must figure out what point Shakespeare is making about each idea.