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"Critic Raymond Williams has said that there can be no one definition of tragedy: tragic experiences are dependant on period and context. Examine the presentation of tragic experiences in your text in the light of this comment."

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Introduction

English Essay "Critic Raymond Williams has said that there can be no one definition of tragedy: tragic experiences are dependant on period and context. Examine the presentation of tragic experiences in your text in the light of this comment." Tragedy has evolved over time from the original concept produced by the Greeks, through Shakespearean Tragedy to Modern Tragedy as used by playwrights such as Arthur Miller. Tragedy is defined as a play dealing with tragic events and ending unhappily with the downfall of the protagonist. More specifically, tragedy has evolved into a specific form, typically with a prologue, two or three acts and an epilogue which tell the story of how the natural order is distorted and then restored after the downfall of the protagonist. Their downfall comes as a result of their fatal flaw, or hamartia. Examples of this include Macbeth and ambition, Hamlet and indecision and Eddie Carbone and pride. Wuthering Heights contains a variety of tragic experiences, many of which involve Heathcliff in both himself and his dealings with other characters. Heathcliff can be portrayed as the tragic hero in Wuthering Heights. If his social position is taken at face value - in that he is nothing more than a homeless orphan who is taken in by ...read more.

Middle

This roughly fits the pattern of events in Wuthering Heights; the arrival of Heathcliff in the Earnshaw household leads to the previous harmony being distorted. From then on, until his death, the natural order of events is not followed, characters do not receive their inheritance and family relationships are distorted. When Heathcliff dies the relationship between Cathy and Hareton is allowed to flourish and a happy and normal existence returns for all of the major characters. Therefore the life of the protagonist and the effects of his fatal flaw cause a distortion in the natural order which is not returned until he dies. Whilst this appears to follow the prescribed form of tragedy, there are faults. The normal existence at the end is not resumed as a direct cause of Heathcliff's demise, the union of Cathy and Hareton comes from their own actions and it is this that in part causes the death of Heathcliff. The relationship itself is hardly secure; it is not fixed by marriage and many of the other relationships in the novel fall apart after similar promising starts. It is not possible to know whether or not the harmony is permanent or merely a temporary respite. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore the structure is different, the only concession to form being the two volumes that it is written in. There is no epilogue or prologue and the plot does not follow the prescribed Greek or Shakespearean forms. Given, however, the reference to the changing form of tragedy commented on by Raymond Williams this is less important. The novel was in its infancy at the time at which Wuthering Heights was written and for Bronte to experiment with a traditional idea in a modern format is entirely probable and does not detract from the narrative. In conclusion, Wuthering Heights is tragic in nature but not in form. It loosely follows the progression of a tragedy if Heathcliff is taken as being a tragic hero, with harmony being restored at his demise. However there are faults with this and it does not fit the mould of a tragedy, most of all in the fact that it is a novel rather than a play. As stated by Raymond Williams, in the light of the events and circumstances the novel is tragic and given the ways in which the tragic form has progressed from the ancient to the modern world the novel may be loosely termed a tragedy. English Essay - Nima October 23rd 2003 Joe Gosden 13HT ...read more.

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