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REJECTION OF TRAGEDY IN MODERN AGE Introduction:- In Williams view the rejection of tragedy has had many motives and

forms. In Brecht we find only two kinds: Response to suffering is crucial; weight of suffering generates a consciousness, which permeates in Europe. Before Brecht, it has also been practiced and presented by other writers and critics. A Rejection of Tragedy is the 7th essay of Part Two of Raymond Williamss book Modern Tragedy. This essay is a study of the rejection of tragedy in the modern age with special reference to Bertolt Brecht (1898-1959), the German dramatist and poet whose cynical and satirical works are characteristic of the period between the two World Wars. He left Germany in 1933 for Russia, went to the United States in 1941, and returned to East Germany after the War. He created a famous theatre company, where dramas were presented with devices like songs, speeches and printed signs to arouse feelings of audience against injustice. In 1928, his play The Three Penny Opera made him famous. From 1930 onward, his work became explicitly communistic, marked by the rejection of the individual in favour of a social ideal. The most permanent features of his mature drama are the Epic form and alienation effect, both developed in reaction to the traditional form which he dubbed Aristotelian. According to him, drama should not be ritual but debate. The spectator should be a detached observer calmly investigating the view of the world that confronts him, rationally considering argument, and stimulated to decisive social action. So he developed his epic or narrative play, loosely constructed with a sequence of individual scenes, functioning as independent dramatic illustrations or quotations to the narrative. He has used a variety of techniques to establish the narrative tone: actual story teller on the stage; explanatory verses relayed before the scene; banner headlines which foretell the events to be portrayed. Bertolt Brechets contribution to the modern world drama is enormous. Unavoidable suffering and inevitable defeat or death had been the controlling principles of tragedy and with the passage of time, they became the tradition of tragic idea. Bertolt Brecht rejected this conventional view of tragedy by reference to these two points. He is of the view that we have to see not only that suffering is avoidable, but that it is not avoided. And not only has that suffering broken us, but that it needs not break us. Brechts own words are the precise expression of this new sense of tragedy: The sufferings of this man appal me because they are unnecessary. Williams quotes from one of his poems An Die Nachgeborenen to show Brechts response to suffering. Here, clearly enough, is a consciousness of the weight of suffering, in the modern tragedy of Europe, which is not hyperbole but is precise and literal. Here he has presented two modes: first, the main cause of suffering in the world is the political system, first the identification of a political system ; second, there is a hope in the fight against it, the finding of hope in the fight against it. But it is not always so. It is not the callousing of acquiescence, as it has been with a majority of men. It is rather the deliberate hardening against open sympathy, the sealing and covering of a too naked tenderness. If the substance of suffering enters, with its natural weight, the spectator will be broken, for he will become a participant. In his early work, Brechet expressed one of the main alternative reactions: a cynical disillusion about the coexistence of public virtue and public murder, public morality and public poverty. In his work of the 1920s, we find the characteristic sickness of a mind calloused by so established a coexistence. If the substance of suffering enters, with its natural weight, the spectator will be broken, for he will become a participant. Yet as a participant, he can only comprehend or condemn the suffering by some active principle, and this he cannot find. Principle, it seems is part of the world he rejects. An evil system is protected by a false morality. Human beings can make themselves heartless at will; sometimes pity and sympathy can deceive and exploit us. So in a tragedy, instead of sympathy, there must be direct shock such a shock is necessary to shake up the established false consciousness. It is always something unpredictable that gives birth to a shock. To explain the above view Williams goes in detail and says that the perversion of values, by a false system, can go so deep that only a new and bitter hardness seems relevant. Instead of sympathy, he says, there must be direct shock. In Brechts plays of the 1920s, according to him, there is a raw chaotic resentment, a hurt so deep that it requires new hurting, a sense of outrage which demands that people be outraged. To affirm Brechts assessment Williams quotes some examples from Brechts play Three Penny Opera. Also he makes a comparison of Brecht with Joyce and Mayakowsky. He says that in much avant-grade writing between the wars, and especially in the 1920s, the naming of filth and the open gesture of anti-morality were felt as creative. According to Brecht, the function of the theatre is to practise Complex seeing; Thinking above the flow of the play is more important than thinking from within the flow of the play. Brechet formed his theory of tragedy in the idea of complex seeing, but its practice was not there, in the actual play. He had considered that his epic style would enforce thinking above, whereas the narrative style of Aristotelian drama enforced thinking from within. He had used distancing effects to push the spectator into the attitude of one who smokes at ease and watches. The play, in fact, fitted easily into what the spectator wishes to see: crime and coldness not structural in the society, but lived out in a romantic and theatrical district. In this section of the article, Williams has discussed six plays of Brechet to explain his point of view, and to illustrate his sense of a new tragedy: (a) The Three Penny Opera: In this play, Brecht shows people buying and selling each other with cold hearts but with colour and wit. That is what life is: the playwright seems to convey the moral that we can all pretend to be livelier and brighter than we are. In ways like this, the writer who shocks by his rejection of conventional morality, becomes rich and admired and this is no paradox: he has done the state some service even when he is disposed to deny it. Brecht thought he was detaching himself from this by calling it bourgeois morality,

but in this play this is so eternal so really casual, that it is in effect an indulgence. In the idea of complex seeing, Brecht has his new star. He set himself to oppose false society by the idea of a true society. In his first conscious acceptance of this principled opposition, he simplified both his feeling and his plays. (b) Saint Joan of the Stockyard: In this play, the clarity of Joan Dark in the labour struggles of Chicago is not only shown as a false morality, covering crime and exploitation, but as a feeling to be consciously rejected and replaced by a new hardness.. (c) Die Massnahme: In this play, Brechet offers what he takes to be a revolutionary morality: that the party worker who shows too much human sympathy endangers the revolutionary effort and must be killed. Here murder is guilt but it is necessary. This is not any dialectical transformation of goodness into its opposite; it is a willing rejection of goodness. The weight of the choice of killing , in experience is tragic. The revolutionary who talks of necessary killing is like the honest criminal or the generous whore. This connection between the decadence and a positive response to it has been widely and dangerously overlooked. He learned to look into the genuine complexity: the connections and contradictions between individual goodness and social action. (d) The Good Woman of Sezuan: In this play, Brecht invites us to look at what happens to a good person in a bad society: not by assertion, but by a dramatic demonstration. Shen Te is a conventional kind hearted prostitute. Through her, Brecht seeks to show how goodness is exploited by gods and men. Where goodness cannot extend, but is merely used and abused, there is a split in consciousness. Brecht rejected such acceptance, as he similarly rejected the idea that suffering can ennoble us. He had the courage to reject sacrifice as a dramatic emotion. In this drama, goodness under pressure turns into its opposite and then back again, and then both co-exist. The play becomes, in its essential movement, a moral action. (e) Mother Courage and Her Children: It is a dramatization of conflicting instincts, conflicting illusions and commanding insights that are not lived through. The final paradox is genuinely tragic: the dumb girl, speaking for life, and being killed; the living going on with a living that kills. It is not the inevitability of tragedy, as in the traditional tragic acceptance or the modern tragic resignation. (f) The Life of Galileo: In this play, the consciousness is the action. In abstraction, the choice presented to Galileo is: accept our terms or be destroyed. He is asking what happens to consciousness when he is caught in the deadlock between individual and social morality. Galileos submission can be rationalised and ju stified, at the individual level, as a way of gaining time to go on with his work. The play brings this issue to consciousness, not as a problem, but as a living action. Galileo, committed to a universal and humanist view of science, has been trapped by another view: the imperatives of a different loyalty, to the ruling group that maintains him, to produce for the market and war. The movement of the play is from the ironic acceptance of false consciousness to the point where false consciousness becomes false action and is not irony but tragedy. Tragedy in some of its older senses is certainly rejected by Brechet. There is nothing inevitable or ennobling about failure in tragedy. It is a matter of human choice, and the choice is not once for all; it is a matter of continuing history. The major achievement of Brechets mature work is his recovery of history as a dimension for tragedy. The sense of history becomes active through the discovery of methods of dramatic movement. He struggled towards this transformation and in part achieved it. Williams essay Rejection of Tragedy is a study of the rejection of traged y in modern age with special reference to Bertolt Brecht who founded epic theater as compared to the emotional theory of Aristotle. He rejected the conventional idea of tragedy and made tragedy more experiential and rational. He made people think above the situation presented in the tragedy and not within. Aristotelian drama enforced thinking from within and Brechts theater from without. He used distancing affects to turn people like spectators who sit in the chair, smoke and observe. He showed what the audience wanted to see. Williams has discussed six plays: The Three Penny Opera, Saint Joan of the Stockyard, Die Massnahme, The Good Woman of Sezuen, Mother Courage and Her Children and the Life of Galileo. In the last play mentioned, the hero is offered two choices one between accepting the terms or the other being destroyed. Nevertheless, the hero recants. Tragedy, says Williams, in some of its older senses is certainly rejected by this complex seeing. The major achievement of Brechet is recovery of hi story as a dimension of tragedy. In tragedy we must see continuity and desire for change. Catastrophe should not halt the action or push the contradictions of life into background. Suffering should be avoided because suffering breaks us, Brecht thinks that our will to struggle should not die under the weight of sufferings. Brecht believes that response to suffering is crucial and weight of suffering is borne by all of us. Even the spectator becomes a participant. As a participant he can condemn or comprehend the sufferings. And for this purpose, he needs some active principle which he finds in the system. But system makes its principles for its defense not for its rejection. Our disgust is directed against morality; not upon the system. Under these circumstances morality serves the cause of the cruel system and religion and spiritualism lose their effectiveness. Morality, religion and spiritualism are used by the exploiting class as a shield against public resentment. Brecht rejected and exposed the validity of the so-called refined sentiments of goodness, love and sacrifice. These are, to him, fake sentiments, romanticized on purpose. Love, he thinks, separates us from humanity. The emphasis on love can look like growth but it is often a simple withdrawal from the human action. Love is defined and capitalized in separation from humanity. Williams declares: An evil system is protected by a false morality Brechts narrative style, which he called Epic Theater, was directed against the illusion created by traditional theater of witnessing a slice of life. Instead, Brecht encouraged spectators to watch events on stage dispassionately and to reach their own conclusions. To prevent spectators from becoming emotionally involved with a play and identifying with its characters, Brecht used a variety of techniques.

Notable among them was the alienation or estrangement effect, which was achieved through such devices as choosing (for German audiences) unfamiliar settings, interrupting the action with songs, and announcing the contents of each scene through posters. Brecht first attracted attention in the Berlin as the author of provocative plays that challenged the tenets of traditional theater. In St. Joan a modern-day Joan of Arc advocates the use of force in the fight against exploitation of workers. In his play, Mother Courage and her Children Brechet invites us to see what happens to a good person in a bad society. Through Sheen Lee, he seeks to show how goodness is exploited by gods and men and how good person is alienated. The anti-war play Mother Courage and Her Children shows an indomitable mother figure who misguidedly seeks to profit from war but loses her children instead. Brechets play Good Woman of Sezuin presents a kind -hearted prostitute. She is good but she is alienated. Brecht called this a parable play, the kind-hearted prostitute is forced to disguise herself as her ruthless male cousin and exploit others in order to survive. According to Brechet the most alienated are the best. He rejected the idea that suffering can ennoble us. Bad societies, he thinks, needs heroes and it is bad life that needs sacrifices. He considers it a sin against life to allow oneself to be destroyed by cruelty. His mature dramas show that it is not possible to label people good or bad. Goodness and badness are the two alternate labels in the same individual. We have a split consciousness and live under this tension. Williams calls it Complex Seeing which was rejected by the traditional conception of tragedy. Mother Courage and her Children is a dramatization of conflicting instincts in a person who is not conscious of these conflicts. But the case in The Life of Galileo is different. Galileo is fully conscious and is free in making a choice. Galileo deals with the responsibility of the intellectual to defend his or her beliefs in the face of opposition from established authorities, in Galileos case the Roman Catholic Church. We can admire or despite Galileo but Brechet is not asking us to do this. He is only telling us what happens to consciousness when it is caught in a deadlock between individual and social morality. We are so used to tragedy and martyrdom under such circumstances that we are unable to see this experience in a radically different way complex seeing and accept the complexity of the situation as a fact of life. Conclusion:-Throughout this essay, Williams has been like a traditional academic critic. At most of the places Williams is just paraphrasing and summarising what Brecht has said in supporto of his theories. The chapter seems merely an introductory or interpretative article worthless in all respects to be included in a book of more philosophical than critical judgements on the tragedy in theory and experience. Williams generalises Brechts views as if they were the views of all the modern critics and dramatists. The arguments he gives in support of his commentary that seems more a kind of passive views remain underhanded and subjective to Brechts ideas. We dont see the vigour of arguments he discussed with the Greek, Mediaeval and Elizabethan critics. Though we have seen this argumentative helplessness in discussions on Nietzsche, it was not so tangible as it is in case of Brecht. The arguments remain so subtle and parasitic that they show that all Williams has done is to explain and interpret Brechts ideas and experiments. In fact what Brecht writes does not suit to the taste of Modern Tragedy. His aim was to portray the mind or society, not the theory. His intention was to discover mainly some new form of expression, not to reject the old ones. Brecht was an innovator, but could not be a pioneer. Except one or two sentences, whatever Williams has said about Brecht so far is merely an approval or appraisal from a teacher. He seems unable to do with Brecht what he has been doing with other critics contriving and deducting from their views and opinions the views and opinions of his own. In between the lines we feel him saying if we want to know his (Williams) views about the concept of tragedy in modern times we should simply read Brecht or any available criticism on him and thats all. Whatever Brecht says and practices seems on Williams behalf true, accepted and agreed. The essay seems a kind of evaluation of Brechts work. Rather it should have been the evaluation of his theories. What we except to read in this chapter is the theoretical growth in the idea of tragedy. What we read in real is the growth in the writing style of tragedies. All Brechts statements are left unexplained as if they were already agreed upon. We find very little of evaluating or interpreting nature. Unlike to the demand of the topic or Williams former expression, the chapter seems bearing no cultural or political perspective. However the argument he gives about Brechts rejection of tragedy with respect to the former tragedies seems interconnecting to some extent. What are the reasons of rejection of tragedy in modern age? How does Williams make a forceful discussion? Give an overview. give a critical analysis of Raymond Williams essay a rejection of tragedy. What is the observation of Williams about the causes of rejection of tragedy by Brecht? Prepared by Professor Saleem Raza