Discuss The Nature Of Shakespearean Tragedy And The Extent To Which Macbeth Exhibits The Qualities Of A Tragedy Essay

3116 words - 13 pages

“Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy” F. Scott Fitzgerald. The fall of a hero due to his hamartia, this is the idea that the ideal tragedy is based upon. Tragedies have captivated the world since the beginning of the human race, audiences can relate with the tragic hero’s that are observed within these works. William Shakespeare is the perhaps the best creator of tragedies the world will ever see. In his ingenious work, Macbeth, in which Shakespeare illustrates the differences between traditional Greek tragedy and the more modern Shakespearean tragedy in addition to utilising many techniques in order to convey the tragedy that is the fall of Macbeth. Audiences are also able to identify allusions from influences of Shakespeare’s work within the text, in addition to having the ability to be viewed and analysed from many different perspectives. It is said that Macbeth may Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy.

The idea of tragedy has changed and developed over time from the idea that the ancient Greek civilisations had of tragedy, to William Shakespeare’s conceptualisation of tragedy within his works. However the intrinsic nature of tragedy has remained largely the same. Tragedy is centred on the downfall of a great character due to a flaw in his nature and his struggle against superior forces. Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, defined tragedy as “…imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in appropriate and pleasurable language; …in a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions.” The Greeks had an interesting interpretation of tragedy, which is largely modelled upon a religious philosophy. Greek tragedy was mainly utilised to demonstrate man’s insignificance in the face of a divine power such as their gods, there is emphasis on the uncontrollability of ones own destiny. Alternatively in Shakespearean tragedy the emphasis is laid upon the responsibility of the individual in bringing his downfall upon himself. However in Shakespearean tragedy the effect of fate upon the downfall is not made null, for example in Macbeth one cannot ignore the impact of the witches and Lady Macbeth on Macbeth’s ultimate fall.

There are multiple differences between Shakespearean tragedy and Ancient Greek tragedy including structural differences, the use of a chorus and the use of supernatural beings. In regards to the structure of their plays the Greeks were very particular about the unity of action, they believed that a play should be a single whole without any deviations. Accompanying this was the unity of time and place, which meant that the amount of time within a play was limited to approximately the same amount of time in reality. Additionally the unity of place meant that the play was limited to a single setting. These unities were observed to portray a sense of reality for the audience. Shakespearean...

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