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The Evolution Of Tragedy In Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, And Desire Under The Elms

1510 words - 6 pages

The Evolution of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms

There are many genres of literature. Because of the age of this genre, it stands to reason that many variations have occurred throughout the years to make it reflect that time period. The genre of tragedy tends to be considered great because it occurs during great periods of history, it is about great men, and it is written by great writers.> The evolution of tragedy and the characteristics of tragedy are exemplified in the comparison of Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms.

In the comparison of Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms the characteristics of tragedy are revealed. One characteristic is that tragedy appears during great times in history. It is thought that tragedy only occurs during great times in history because the people during those times have a sense of confidence that they can handle the horror of tragedy. Oedipus Rex was written during ancient Greece, which is considered the birthplace of the western culture. Ancient Greece is a time of great enlightenment in all of the arts, so it is not surprising that this is one of the beginnings of the tragedy. During this time Greece is rising in power so the people could enjoy watching others face hard times. Hamlet was written during another great period of history, the Renaissance. During this time people are moving out of the Middle Ages into a time of enlightenment, where a rebirth of interest in the arts occurs. This time also is marked by a confidence in one having a prosperous future and the country as a whole looking toward a good life. Finally, Desire Under the Elms appeared during what is called the Modern period. The Modern period is another time in history where an enlightenment in the arts occurs and there are many progressions in literature. All three periods are marked by an interest in the arts occurs and where their country is experiencing a sense of power. This can be compared to the current time period in that we have a sense of power and we realize the significance of art, so that we appreciate the tragedies of the past. However, one does not see an emergence of new tragedies being written because we always have a feeling that bad times could be ahead of us.

Another characteristic of tragedy that can be identified in the comparison of these three tragedies is in the significance of plot. Plot is considered the soul of tragedy because it is what governs the actions of the characters and provides the needed impact for the audience. If Hamlet had discovered that Polonius was behind the curtain before he killed him, then the view of Hamlet's personality and the audience's reaction to this action would have been very different. By the killing occurring before Polonius is identified, Hamlet is still viewed as a good guy and the audience has a reaction of surprise. Another example of how the plot can govern the development of a...

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