What Makes A Shakespearean Tragedy Essay Research

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What Makes A Shakespearean Tragedy Essay, Research Paper What does it take to make a tragedy? William Shakespeare is undoubtedly one of Britain s best playwrights. His works are now classics; especially those labeled as tragedies. On the subject of tragedy, A.C. Bradley has to this to say: Tragedy is a typical form of mystery because the greatness of soul which it shows oppressed, conflicting, and destroyed is the highest existence in our minds. It forces the mystery upon us, and makes us realize vividly the worth of that which is wasted, and that such waste of potential greatness, nobility of the soul, of humanity is truly the tragedy of human existence. Thus, a tragic pattern emerges (n. pag.).Shakespeare s plays, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello demonstrate clearly the

elements of a tragic pattern in a Shakespearean play. The first of these elements is the first impression and the greatness of the tragic hero. The greatness of the hero is normally heard from others in the beginning of the play before the hero even makes his entrance (Bradley n. pag.). In Hamlet, it is unsure at first to say that Hamlet is as noble and admired as Macbeth and Othello in the beginning. Yet by the middle of the story, it is seen that: Hamlet is a tragic hero because the spectacle of his doings and undoings is profoundly stirring; it rouses the emotions of awe and admiration, it never makes readers scorn or contempt (Scott 124). Unlike Hamlet, in the beginning Scott saw Macbeth as a good man, noble, and admired by all who knew him (101). Similar to Macbeth, Othello

appeared to be a noble figure, generous, composed, and self-possessed (Gerard n. pag.). In Shakespearean tragedies, the reader must believe that the hero is really a hero who is admired and loved so that they can see their fall from the top (Bradley n. pag.). Bradley put it best when he said that in Shakespeare, with greatness comes jealousy, ambition, and an obsession in both of those flaws (n. pag.). Hamlet s moral stature is so great that his back does not break. However he is crippled and the arm that should perform the Ghost s command is paralyzed. Thus, he supports the command, but cannot discharge it (Wilson 50). Throughout the play, Hamlet is troubled by the certain conditions that the ghost lays upon him. However he is set on revenge and eventually does go through with

the task. In Macbeth, treasonous ambition collides with loyalty, the laws of hospitality, and patriotism in Macduff and Malcolm. These forces create both the external and internal conflict within Macbeth (Gerard n. pag.). Othello is a story of raging sexual jealousy prompted by the least credible of motives (Jorgensen 58). All three stories contain the jealousy, ambition, and obsession explained by Bradley. A sense of urgency develops with the conflict and not only creates tension, but also a steam-rolling inevitability regarding the hero s fall that he has started himself (Bradley n. pag.). After this has occurred the next characteristic of the tragic pattern occurs. The hero becomes isolated from his environment. In most of his tragedies, Shakespeare allows chance in some form

to influence some of the action. He also introduces the supernatural: ghosts and witches who have supernatural knowledge (Bradley n. pag.). In Hamlet, the Ghost keeps the play together and is the important instrument, which sets the plot in motion (Wilson 53). Macbeth contains witches and apparitions instead of ghosts. As seen in this excerpt: Present fears/ Are less than horrible imaginings, Shakespeare lets readers see that Macbeth can face the brutal realities of battle but not the ghastly human visions and extensions (Jorgensen 84). The Weird Sisters bring other sinister ambiguities or double meanings in Macbeth that confound the moral issues. Because of this Macbeth is a victim of irony. With the line from the chant, Fair is foul, and foul is fair ; the Weird Sisters are