Tragedy And Its Types



A literary work in which the central character is carried to ruin or agonizes excellent sorrow, mainly due to a tragic flaw, moral feebleness, or inability to cope with unfavorable situations. Aristotle writes: the object of Tragedy is to bring about a "catharsis" in the onlookers to stir sensations of pity and fear in them. The tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious and complete with some prominence about it.

According to Aristotle, "the construction of the best Tragedy should not be simple but complicated, and one that represents incidents arousing fear and pity for that is unusual to this form of painting. The term tragedy often mentions a specific drama tradition that has historically played an essential role in Western civilization.

In Poetics, Aristotle's famous study of Greek dramatic painting, Aristotle compares Tragedy to such other musical arrangements as comedy and epic. The Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but action and life, of pleasure and unhappiness. And life comprises an act, and its conclusion is a mode of activity, not a quality.

 Elements of Tragedy:

In its style of imitation, Tragedy is dissimilar from the epic. The epic uses narrative, while Tragedy represents life through acting.

According to Aristotle, Tragedy has six main components: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and song, of which the first two are crucial.

The plot is the center of gravity for any tragedy and the arrangement of incidents. Stories can be complex or linear.

Characterization provides the base for the plot. The characters must represent true human nature and be loyal to the mythical or historical personalities they are exhibited on.

Thought is the intellectual element of a tragic drama. This also comprises the various themes depicted in the Tragedy.    

Diction is the selection of words or vocabulary used by the dramatist. Diction is the portrayal of emotions through the instrument of terms.

Music is the spice used in a tragedy like the chorus songs. It offers an understanding of existing actualities and future possibilities.

Stagecraft is the organization of the stage. It adds to the relevance of an event.

The Dramatic Unities:

Unity of Action.

Unity of Time.


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Early Modern Period of English Literature (1500-1660)


Unity of Place.

Unities, in drama, are the three principles from Aristotle's Poetics; they require a play to have a single action represented as occurring in a single place and within a day. These principles were called, respectively, unity of action, unity of place, and unity of time.

The Ideal Tragic Hero:

A tragic hero should be a mixture of virtue and human weakness. His misfortune should come about from an error of judgment, and he must fall from a height of glorious position. Such a man would arouse the tragic emotions of pity and fear. The hero's error or frailty (hamartia) is often clarified as his "tragic flaw.

    Play → Tragic Hero → Tragic Flaw

Antigone → Creon → self-pride, stubbornness.

 King Lear → Lear → pride and vanity.

Romeo and Juliet → Romeo → haste and rashness.

Characteristics of tragedy:

Tragic flaw

Tragic hero




Central belief fate  


Sad ending

The protagonist usually has a tragic flaw or some flaw that is the reason for his downfall. For example, let's look at Sophocles' play Oedipus the King. In this drama, Oedipus is a great king and a strong leader. He is beloved by the people and lives a grand life. However, his tragic flaw is his pride.

Catharsis is probably the reason why so many people want to read or watch a tragedy. It is the sentiment of pain and fear for the characters.

The sin of hubris is a common form of hamartia; excessive pride results in characters breaking celestial or moral laws.

The whole thing is "written in the stars," and there is nothing anyone can do to alter it. Fate also plays an important role.

The ending must always be sad, a ruin, death, or separation. The focus is generally on the main character that will be struck by the Tragedy.

A catastrophe is an unanticipated event that causes great suffering or loss.

Types of Tragedy:

There are six types of tragedies in English Literature;

1.     Revenge tragedy (for example - Marlowe's The Jew of Malta)

2.     Social Tragedy ( Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House)

3.     Romantic Tragedy (Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet)

4.     Domestic tragedy (George Lillo's The London Merchant)

5.     Heroic Drama (Roger Boyle's The Black Prince)

6.     Melodrama (Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights)

In English plays, domestic Tragedy is a tragedy in which the tragic heroes are familiar with middle-class or working-class individuals.

Revenge tragedy (sometimes referred to as revenge drama, revenge play, or Tragedy of blood) is a genre's whose principal theme is revenge and revenge's fatal result.

A romance-based film with a complex wind-up, usually ending in an event that triggers two characters to be apart, is a romantic tragedy. The ruin is often led by an excess of love or passion.

A social tragedy is a collective exemplification of injustice.

Heroic Tragedy is a name given to the form of the Tragedy at the start of the restoration period. It was drama in epic mode.

A melodrama is a story or plays with a lot of sensational.

Some famous Tragedy Writers

Christopher Marlowe


Doctor Faustus

The Jew of Malta

Edward III

William Shakespeare



King Lear


Antony and Cleopatra

John Webster

The White Devil

The Duchess of Malfi.


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  1. Make it more clear, I don't understand a thing .

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