Tragedy And Comedy Essay

1007 words - 4 pages

Some of the earliest traces of tragedy and comedy date back to Greek festivals honoring their gods. Among all the gods, Dionysus was honored with a festival called City Dionysia. This festival took place in Athens which was a preeminent core of theatrical performances at the time. The dithyramb, an ancient Greek hymn, was sung in honor of this god. In fact, tragedy and comedy almost originated as one. John Morreall of State University of New York wrote, “the great dramatists wrote both tragedies and comedies”(Morreall 3). While this statement is quite valid, there is far more to the origins of comedy and tragedy than what meets the eye. Comedy and tragedy, though once quite the same, eventually began to grow apart as the differences between them strengthened. As this culture developed and went through the Shakespearean Era, tragedy and comedy have evolved into what they are today.
Early Greek tragedies were made to be performed upfront of an audience in a theater and were never truly intended to be written in the forms of novels. In fact, the origins of comedy and tragedy can be traced back to the great three tragedians: Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. These great three composed some of the best plays of all time. Each generation re-invented the same myths from a different perspective and this sort of kept the myths alive because they seemed more valid. For example, Sophocles was a, “definitive innovator in the drama, he added a third actor—thereby tremendously increasing the dramatic possibilities of the medium—increased the size of the chorus, abandoned the trilogy of plays for the self-contained tragedy, and introduced scene painting”(Columbia E.E. 1). The Greeks divided their theatre into three genres: tragedies, comedies, and satyr plays. Satyr plays were part of the ritual to Dionysus and provided comic relief between tragedies during Greek theatre sessions. In particular, invective, a type of libel used in Greek polemical verse which was basically bad language used to express blame, could’ve been seen in tragedies and comedies, even though it gives off a negative connotation. Satyr plays basically bridged tragedy and comedy. Surely, this later changed as tragedy and comedy began to grow apart.
Shakespearean comedies, in their Elizabethan usage, tended to be more separate from tragedy. Shakespeare utilized satire which is a way for him to use witty language to convey insults. In fact, Shakespeare’s style made him unique which is why he is studied in classrooms even today. Still, Shakespeare wrote numerous problem plays such as Measure for Measure where an unusual tone insists that there is humor and tragedy together. In her section of a drama-based journal, Jennifer Wallace writes that, “the performance history of both Greek and Shakespearean tragedy involved the king of blurring of distinctions that Socrates presumably had in mind when he argued, at the end of a long evening of drinking, that ‘the same man could have the knowledge...

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