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Greek Tragedy and Dramatic Structure

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Ashley Witt

on 10 January 2014

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Transcript of Greek Tragedy and Dramatic Structure

Greek Drama: The Tragedy
Tragedy dealt with the big themes of
love, loss, pride, abuse of power
fraught relationships
between men and God.

Typically the main protagonist of a tragedy commits some
terrible crime
without realizing how foolish and arrogant he has been. He slowly realizes his error, the
world crumbles around him.
Fate: The will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do -

Everything is meant to happen for a reason
and that the path one leads in life was prescribed for them by the Gods.
There is no escape
from fate or destiny
Aristotle's Definition of Tragedy
Tragedy depicts the
of a basically good person through some
fatal error , misjudgment or flaw
which produces suffering and insight into
on the part of the protagonist. In turn this causes pity and fear on the part of the audience
Greek Tragedy and Dramatic Structure
Learning Objective
To understand the structural elements and history of the genre of a Dramatic Tragedy.
self pride or self confidence (overbearing pride) resulting in
fatal retribution

+Greek drama refers to hubris as actions taken in order to shame the victim, therfore making oneself seem superior

A true tragedy should evoke pity and fear on the part of the audience.
Pity and fear are the natural human responses to sepctavles of pain and suffering - especially to the sort of pain that can strike anyone at any time. The effect is that we feel relief in the end through
and are purged of these feelings.
Aristotles Poetics
Tragedy must have 6 parts:
: "but the greatest thing of all is to have a command of metaphors . . . it is the mark of genius for to make good metaphor imples an eye for resembalnces."
: Chorus, unity of the play
Aristotle defines plot as "the arrangement of the incidents" (not the story
but the presentation of incidents to the audience - the
of the play

Aristotle says tragedies where the outcome depends on a tightly constructed cause and effect chain of actions are superior to those that depend on the character and personality of the protagonist
The Tragic Hero
The tragic hero must be essentially admirable adn good
The fall of a scoundrel or villain evokes applause whereas we feel comapssion for a character we admire. The nobler and more admirable the person is the greater our anxiety or grief at their downfall
In a true tragedy the hero's demise must coem as a result of some persoanl error or decision
There is no such thing as an innocent victim in tragedy not can a genuinely tragic downfall ever be purely a matter of blind accident or bad luck.
The tragic hero must always bear at least some
for his own

Key Terminology
Anagorisis: tragic recognition or insight
+ a moment of
clairvoyant insight
or understanding in the mind of the tragic hero, he suddenly comprehends the web of
fate he is entangled in

Hamartia: Tragic error
fatal error
or simple mistake that leads to
. A shot that misses the bullseye

Nemesis: Retribution
+ the inevitable payback or
cosmic punishment
for acts of hubris

Peripateia: Plot reversal
+ pivotal action that changes situation from
secure to vulnerable.

Catharsis: transformation through transaction

+ emotional purging of the audience.
Pity and fear to relief and exhilaration at the end
Full transcript