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Can we write about the tragedy of Hamlet in any meaningful fashion
The first 200 words of this essay...
Can we write about the tragedy of 'Hamlet' in any meaningful fashion?
It is highly problematic to use the word 'tragedy' when referring to Shakespeare's works. 'Hamlet' has long been considered the best example of what one would call a tragedy out of all Shakespeare's plays, yet this generalisation, as it proves to be, is the most troublesome of all. Perhaps the reason for this lies in the unknown extent of Shakespeare's familiarity with what one would call traditional tragedy, whose routes lie in the principles set down by the Greeks and Aristotle.
Aristotle, in setting down the so-called rules of tragedy in his 'Poetics' talks of an essential element; 'Hamartia', fundamental in the downfall of the prominent (usually this prominence is reflected in a high up hierarchical figure, perhaps of the nobility)'tragic hero' and which, furthermore the character must recognise. This fall from grace marks a reversal of the character's fortune, placing great emphasis on an element of fate; the 'strumpet fortune' that Hamlet so frequently refers to. Aristotle, echoing the Greek view that tragedy is didactic also talks of a fundamental element, Catharsis, at the tragic hero's downfall where the audience's emotions are purged and purified.
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