Stimulating Pity Through Murder Essay

1193 words - 5 pages

Aristotle theorized that a good tragedy possesses characteristics such as the ability to arouse feelings of pity in the audience. Playwrights can achieve this aforementioned specification through the implementation of a dramatic device into their plays. Murder tends to be useful because it can have a large impact on audiences and playwrights apply it to their plays to achieve a reaction such as pity. One playwright in particular, William Shakespeare, can be said to have utilized murder efficiently because, even after 400 years, his plays still have an immense effect on audiences. In Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Othello Shakespeare’s use of murder arouses pity in the audience, thereby ...view middle of the document...

However, immediately after this initial thought, Lady Macduff has an epiphany and understands that she resides in an awful world where evil thrives and goodness brings bad luck. Lady Macduff concludes that if she comprehends that the world works chaotically, then why does she try to try to defend her innocence. Essentially, Lady Macduff accepts her fate that she is going to be killed for doing nothing wrong. The fact that she has no pity for herself in a way makes the audience feel pity for her because no one should feel that he or she deserves to die just because the world is cruel. The way that Shakespeare uses the dramatic device of murder in this scene makes the audience feel bad for Lady Macduff and her situation.
Lady Macduff is not the only person murdered in this part of the play. Additionally, her children are murdered, which makes an audience pity the Macduff family’s predicament. In act IV scene three Ross, a Scottish nobleman, arrives in England, where Macduff has fled, to deliver the news of Macduff’s family’s fate. At first, Ross does not tell him the awful news; but, Macduff eventually pulls it out of him and Ross says:
Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes
Savagely slaughter’d: to relate the manner
Were, on the quarry of these murder’d deer,
To add the death of you. (Macbeth, 91)
The adverb “savagely” and the noun “deer” in Ross’s speech can put a graphic image into the head of any audience member and can potentially make one feel the utmost sympathy for Macduff’s family. Ross comparing the murders of the family to that of “deer” makes one feel that innocent people were murdered. Therefore, an audience pities the family’s situation. In the same way that an audience pities Lady Macduff, they similarly feel bad for the rest of the Macduff family because of their brutal slayings. With the same spree of murders, Shakespeare produces pity in the audience two separate times with Lady Macduff’s sad realization of the awful world and the rest of her family’s unnecessary, violent murder. The murders of Lady Macduff and her family achieve part of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy through evoking pity in the audience.
Romeo and Juliet: Romeo’s Predicament
Romeo states, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” (Romeo and Juliet, 47) In the instance after Romeo slays Tybalt for murdering his beloved friend Mercutio, Romeo recognizes...

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