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Essay: Tragedy in literature

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  • Published: 16 November 2017*
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Tragedy is one of the main types of literature.  Tragedy is the form of drama that describing the human suffering. It is not easy genre for perception and causes a lot of debates.   Some people adore tragedy; others do no perceive it at all.  The paper deals with the main characteristics of tragedy and the society`s reaction on it.  The main tasks of the paper is to examine the origins and reasons of tragedy`s writing and discuss the audiences` positive reaction on it. Moreover, the paper pays special attention to the tragedy`s effect upon society.
The tragedy gained its popularity in the ancient Greece.  Aristotle provided the classical definition of the tragedy.  According to Aristotle (335 B.C./1967), tragedy is “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions” (50).
The main aim of writers is to bore the human emotions.  Moreover, the tragedy can help writer to share the emotions and feeling that he or she has ever experienced. The tragedies happen in ordinary life every day and some people decide to tell them to the world. Human life is not always fine and bad things occur.  That`s why tragedy is an actual genre. Through tragedy, a person can receive the advice how he or she may act in the similar situation. Tragedy makes us to realize the all events, even dramatic, in the world shapes our life in the best way.
The heartbreaking end is the essential element of the tragedy.   The tragedies have the different endings, such as chaos and death. But the main character always realizes his guilty and responsibility for his acts. Such features of protagonist`s character leads to catharsis.
Catharsis is considered to be the main factor why so many people like to read or watch tragedies.   The Oxford Dictionary defines the catharsis as “the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions” (“Catharsis,” 2017).
At the end people see all extent of the protagonists`   sufferings and it can make them hopeless. At the same time people observe that the main character repents. Pity and fear are the first emotions that tragedy causes, than the spectators feel the emotional relief. For instance, the purification theory states that catharsis refines the human emotions from all possible defects and defines the right direction. People learn to control their emotions such as pity, fear and despair.
Butcher   states that “the tragic Catharsis involves not only the idea of emotional relief, but the further idea of purifying the emotions so relieved” (as cited in Rai, 1992).
However, such approach to the Catharsis is based more on psychology than literary theory. Aristotle reveals the Catharsis in the frames of literature. He states that catharsis is the element of tragedy, but not the factor that defines the emotional condition of the public. Tragedy is based on the universal law and tries to reflect the reality. It means that the main target of catharsis is to provide more profound essence of the universal law, which rules the human lives. Notably, the term catharsis is not religious, ethical or psychological. This term should be defined as intellectual.
Hans-Georg Gadamer’s definition of this most complicated concept is believed to be the most right and full. The author affirms the following: “What is experienced in such an excess of tragic suffering is something truly common. The spectator recognizes himself and his finiteness in the face of the power of fate. What happens to the great ones of the earth has exemplary significance. . . .To see that “this is how it is” is a kind of self-knowledge for the spectator, who emerges with new insight from the illusions in which he, like everyone else, lives”. (Hans-Georg Gadamer, 2013, 133)
In general words, catharsis is the culmination of each tragedy. Tragedy makes people be so tense and people seek for the way and means to relieve.  Without catharsis this genre would lose its identity and the significance in the literature and theatre.
The most known tragedies are the Classical Greece tragedies and Shakespeare`s plays. Both kinds of tragedies pay a lot of attention to the hero, his thoughts and realization of own mistake. Notably, William Shakespeare’s tragedies have the jesters and their main mission is to provide comic relief. As a rule, the base of the catharsis in the classical tragedy is the actions of the main character. As a master of soliloquies, Shakespeare uses the character` s words in order to provide the most effective catharsis.
It seems reasonable to admit that tragedy has a profound impact on the society.  Significantly, tragedies have the different effect on the different kinds of people. Some people`s reaction to the such genre is quick and predictable, other ones need more time to realize the essence and the consequences of the tragedy.  Some scenes described in the tragedies can provoke people to remember the past experience and make them nervous.  Nevertheless, tragedy is able to rebuild person`s faith and provide the opportunity to look at the life from the distinct angels.
Tragedy pictures the real nature of human. This genre reveals our main fears, grievance, worrying and dreams. Tragedies always demonstrate unvarnished and real life. The target of any tragedy is to describe person as the attractive being. Despite any defects and misunderstandings, the protagonists may inspire readers or spectators. The main character is the embodiment of human sins and the path to redemption. The author of tragedy can even manipulate the audience and pictures his hero in the subjective ways. On the other hand, the fundamental change of the protagonists during the development of storyline forms the final public opinion.
My attitude towards tragedy was not the same at the various stages of my life. Being the sensitive child, I did not like this genre at all. It is difficult for children to realize the value of life and love, the meaning of death and destroy.  My opinion has been changed dramatically, after reading the amazing Shakespeare “Romeo and Juliet.” The play has all necessary element of the tragedy: the ending, the protagonists` courage to admit all mistakes and the death of the young characters. Juliet and her Romeo show the incredible power of love and demonstrate the age and social opinion are not vital for people who really love each other.  This genre has influenced my worldview and made me to be ready to the most complicated situations in life.
Above all, that tragedy is the ancient genre of literature, but it still preserves its actuality. This genre is believed to be the most emotional and pure. Tragedy does not teach us no to make the mistakes, it teaches to fix them and go on.

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