• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast the use of tragedy in two or more plays:

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and contrast the use of tragedy in two or more plays: When the term 'tragedy' is used, certain plays are at the forefront of ones mind. There are, manifestly, Shakespeare's great tragedies - Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet and of course King Lear; and in the time of ancient Greece, there is the great classic play - Sophocles' King Oedipus. The similarities at first seem great. Oedipus and Lear are Kings, and the themes dealt with in the plays are comparable, as are the questions they pose. Both Kings fall from their pinnacles. Oedipus finds out that he has committed incest and murdered his own flesh and blood. Whereas Lear degenerates from being a mighty ruler to a mad beggar. They are fallen heroes their hierarchy destroyed, reduced to mere men - a tragedy in itself to become loathed and ostracised. Tragedy tears us apart; it shatters our sense of the world and ourselves. The terrifying power of tragedy is suggested by Sir Philip Sidney, when he speaks, in An Apology for Poetry (1595), of high and excellent Tragedy, that openeth the greatest wounds, and show us forth the ulcers that are covered with tissue; that maketh kings fear to be tyrants, and tyrants manifest their tyrannical humours; that, with stirring the affects of admiration and commiseration, teacheth the uncertainty of this world and upon weak foundations gilden roofs are builded.... ...read more.

Middle

Their misjudgements come from their own character flaws, whereas Oedipus' misjudgements are fated due to his own lack of information. Gloucester wrongs Edgar by believing Edmond. Gloucester is given several chances to see through Edmond's charade, but is tricked by his bastard son into believing that Edgar is plotting his death. Gloucester knows both sons well enough; he has no reason to assume Edgar as the guilty party, other than Edmond's testimony. If he were thinking clearly he would be aware of this; however, because of his preference for his bastard son it does not occur to him to assume Edmond is lying. He does not wish to believe either son as evil. He is though, easily convinced. Again it is his character that causes this gross misjudgement not the lack of information. In virtually the same way Lear esteems Goneril and Regan's declarations of devotion over Cordelia's blunter statement of duty, even though Cordelia is as sincere as they are false. As their father he must surely be aware of their characters and be able to judge them fairly. Lear Asks: Which of you shall we say doth love us most, That we are largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge? (Shakespeare, 5) He seems as though he is deliberately wronging Cordelia, in spite of his obvious affection for her. ...read more.

Conclusion

We cannot pin down the blame as we can in Lear and questions are left to hang without resolution. The same questions are asked in Lear as in Oedipus but appear less obvious than the former. In Lear the intense plot distracts us whereas we are confronted with them in Oedipus 'head on', because the action has already occurred. Therefore Lear seems to come to a more acceptable resolution. At the end of King Oedipus, Sophocles leaves one with the burden of unresolved issues. Whereas Shakespeare, though not coming to a resolution makes them more acceptable and less sad. Lear seems more cathartic than Oedipus and there seems to be less agony about its 'tragic nature'. At the time Oedipus was conceived, scholars and the masses that attended performances truly believed in the concept of the gods, fate and the inevitability of predestiny. It was the birth of classical concepts and the humanities. Shakespeare's Lear is written in a different era and borrows many ideas from Grecian concepts but pays homage to more modern concepts of the Elizabethan/Jacobean sensibilities. There are more romantic notions in Shakespeare whereas in Sophocles there is a more allegorical moral, although both provide didactic functions. The major theme of tragedy involves a mighty and respected figurehead dragged down from a great height by circumstance or fate to the human condition of pathos and suffering and is consequently reduced to everyman. Tragedy is the tool that awakens the audience's senses so we pity and empathise with the flawed hero. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    In the desert, Alm�sy notes, "all of us...wished to remove the clothing of our countries." When men are up against such a harsh enemy as the vast nature of the desert, the different ethnicities among them become meaningless. Living in the desert helps Alm�sy to realize this, and thus shape his own view of the world.

  2. Compare and Contrast the presentation on Edmund and Edgar in Sheakespeare's King Lear

    Shakespeare's choice of language in Edmund's soliloquy reveals more about his character. The tone of this soliloquy is angry and bitter, as Edmunds feelings of deprivation are uncovered. Shakespeare uses repeated plosive sounds, 'With base? With baseness, bastardy? Base, base?'.

  1. The Use of The Four Elements in The Wars

    This fire is representative of Robert's father's job, and his father's job is representative of Robert's life, therefore, the fire can represent life. The more stereotypical view of fire, a dangerous reaction causing death and destruction, is also featured in this book.

  2. Compare and contrast the writers presentation of the consequences of obsessive love in: Othello, ...

    This is similar to 'Notes on a Scandal' in a sense that if only Barbara took more notice of Sheba's relationship with Connolly as a good friend would do, Sheba may have been able to escape imprisonment. Instead, Barbara focuses on herself and Sheba and in finding out about the two, and she tells Bangs, as mentioned above.

  1. Everyday Use: Defining African-American Heritage

    Although she has renounced her American name, she still holds tight to American consumer culture. As David Cowart explains: She wants to make the lid of the butter churn into a centerpiece for her table. She wants to hang quilts on the wall.

  2. madness through king lear, the fool and edgar

    Lear's speeches become increasingly disjointed as he becomes more distressed, hinting at the madness that will overtake him later in the play. He is becoming progressively isolated due to his fragile mental state, thus, through Lear the idea of madness could be seen as being presented as vulnerability.

  1. Compare and contrast the writers presentation of conflict and power between men and women ...

    The female roles in this royal occasion are classified as the King?s daughters, giving them a higher status than other women in the time. Hardy begins the novel in the ?late summer? with the ?valleys and woods? and the ?sight of several horses?.

  2. Compare & Contrast The Way Women Are Portrayed In Hamlet, Wuthering Heights and A ...

    However strong Gertrude may seem throughout the text, she too is the victim of male oppression, although it can be open for debate. Gertrude?s tragic flaw that ultimately leads to her death is perhaps her need to want to be controlled by powerful men and her need for men to

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work