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Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth von Bradley, A. C. (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 06.09.2016
  • Verlag: anboco
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Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth

Shakespearean tragedy is the classification of drama written by William Shakespeare which has a noble protagonist, who is flawed in some way, placed in a stressful heightened situation and ends with a fatal conclusion. The plots of Shakespearean tragedy focus on the reversal of fortune of the central characters which leads to their ruin and ultimately, death. Shakespeare wrote several different classifications of plays throughout his career and the labeling of his plays into categories is disputed amongst different sources and scholars. There are 10 Shakespeare plays which are always classified as tragedies and several others which are disputed; there are also Shakespeare plays which fall into the classifications of comedy, history, or romance/tragicomedy that share fundamental attributes of a Shakespeare tragedy but do not wholly fit in to the category. The plays which provide the strongest fundamental examples of the genre of Shakespearean tragedy are Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbethand Antony and Cleopatra.

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    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 994
    Erscheinungsdatum: 06.09.2016
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783736414211
    Verlag: anboco
    Größe: 614 kBytes
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Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth

1

In approaching our subject it will be best, without attempting to shorten the path by referring to famous theories of the drama, to start directly from the facts, and to collect from them gradually an idea of Shakespearean Tragedy. And first, to begin from the outside, such a tragedy brings before us a considerable number of persons (many more than the persons in a Greek play, unless the members of the Chorus are reckoned among them); but it is pre-eminently the story of one person, the 'hero,' [1] or at most of two, the 'hero' and 'heroine.' Moreover, it is only in the love-tragedies, Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra , that the heroine is as much the centre of the action as the hero. The rest, including Macbeth , are single stars. So that, having noticed the peculiarity of these two dramas, we may henceforth, for the sake of brevity, ignore it, and may speak of the tragic story as being concerned primarily with one person.

The story, next, leads up to, and includes, the death of the hero. On the one hand (whatever may be true of tragedy elsewhere), no play at the end of which the hero remains alive is, in the full Shakespearean sense, a tragedy; and we no longer class Troilus and Cressida or Cymbeline as such, as did the editors of the Folio. On the other hand, the story depicts also the troubled part of the hero's life which precedes and leads up to his death; and an instantaneous death occurring by 'accident' in the midst of prosperity would not suffice for it. It is, in fact, essentially a tale of suffering and calamity conducting to death.

The suffering and calamity are, moreover, exceptional. They befall a conspicuous person. They are themselves of some striking kind. They are also, as a rule, unexpected, and contrasted with previous happiness or glory. A tale, for example, of a man slowly worn to death by disease, poverty, little cares, sordid vices, petty persecutions, however piteous or dreadful it might be, would not be tragic in the Shakespearean sense.

Such exceptional suffering and calamity, then, affecting the hero, and-we must now add-generally extending far and wide beyond him, so as to make the whole scene a scene of woe, are an essential ingredient in tragedy and a chief source of the tragic emotions, and especially of pity. But the proportions of this ingredient, and the direction taken by tragic pity, will naturally vary greatly. Pity, for example, has a much larger part in King Lear than in Macbeth , and is directed in the one case chiefly to the hero, in the other chiefly to minor characters.

Let us now pause for a moment on the ideas we have so far reached. They would more than suffice to describe the whole tragic fact as it presented itself to the mediaeval mind. To the mediaeval mind a tragedy meant a narrative rather than a play, and its notion of the matter of this narrative may readily be gathered from Dante or, still better, from Chaucer. Chaucer's Monk's Tale is a series of what he calls 'tragedies'; and this means in fact a series of tales de Casibus Illustrium Virorum ,-stories of the Falls of Illustrious Men, such as Lucifer, Adam, Hercules and Nebuchadnezzar. And the Monk ends the tale of Croesus thus:

Anhanged was Cresus, the proudè kyng;

His roial tronè myghte hym nat availle.

Tragédie is noon oother maner thyng,

Ne kan in syngyng criè ne biwaille

But for that Fortune alwey wole assaile

With unwar strook the regnès that been proude;

For whan men trusteth hire, thanne wol she faille,

And covere hire brighte facè with a clowde.

A total reverse of fortune, coming unawares upon a

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