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loneliness of the dead man, blindness of human destiny and the loss of the connection as a result

of that death are irreparable.

According to Raymond Williams, evil goes side by side with
good. However, it is often perceived that evil is more powerful and attractive and make the
society to surrender before it. But he believes that it is temporary phase, because, ultimately it is
good that is victorious. Hence, the tragedy demonstrates the struggle between good and evil going
on in the world as well. But, evil presented in tragedy is of varied form, making the audience to
have a clear recognition of the fact that one can be good or evil in particular ways in particular
situations of the play, thus achieving different responses as well. Hence, tragedy does not teach us
about evil, rather it teaches us about so many aspects of life and their consequences.
In the end, we can say that Raymond Williams has very aptly analyzed the concept of
tragedy with reference to contemporary ideas. From modern concept of tragedy, a minute
observer and critic can get a lot of information. In short, it is a great work of criticism by Raymond

A rejection of Tragedy is a highly informative, analytical and reflection essay by Williams

Raymond. This essay is basically a study of the rejection of tragedy in modern age with special
reference to Bertolt Brecht. Bertolt was a famous German dramatist as well as poet, how is also
known as for cynic and satirical touch in his works. However, the present essay is about rejection
of tragedy in modern age, Brechts views about it and the way he has demonstrated it in his
different plays. Brecht founded epic theater as compared to the conventional theory of Aristotle.
He rejected the conventional idea of the tragedy and made tragedy more experimental and
Brecht believed that drama should not be taken as ritual, but a debate, where the
spectators should be its detached observer. They should evaluate its different aspects according to
their own perception, thus get stimulated to decisive action. In fact, he considers that it is not so
important to show tragedy on stage, rather what is most important is its effect on the audiences.
In short, tragedy of a man appeals purely on human grounds, when one man is passing through an
unjust sufferings and this of response is the intensity of tragedy.
The close analysis of essay reveals that Brecht has rejected the concept of nobility in
tragedy also. He proves that in modern age even a common man can is as important as a person
belonging to high rank. He feels that even a prostitute could arouse the emotions of pity and
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fear. This shows that today humanity is more important than anything else. He even feels that
sometimes very pathetic incidents do not arouse pity in us, thus having no intensity of tragedy,
and this is where tragedy itself is rejected. He very ironically asserts that people who are wicked
can even arouse pity and fear only when the whole society is wicked.
According to Brecht, the function of the theater is to practice complex seeing. This means
to watch something on the stage not according to ones desires, rather through its complexities, as
they not only make us aware of certain tendencies in life, but also clarify us of certain critical
situations. In this respect, he bestows a new task to the theater to present some ungentle acts
on the stage along with some noble ones. He strongly believes that when audiences watch some
of their weaknesses demonstrated on the stage, they are bound to learn something from it, as it
mirrors their own weaknesses as well. Hence, the stage by showing some ugly aspects of peoples
life plays an important part in moulding their personalities.
Brecht very aptly observed and then asserted that in the past nobility was shown to
arouse morality in the society, but in modern times even immorality is shown to arouse morality
in the society, aptly demonstrated in his plays. Thus according to him, the function of tragedy is to
inform people of their deteriorated values and standards that need to be mended. It is because of
these priorities of the writers and the changing situation in the plays that term tragedy is
replaced by sociological drama. He also feels that today man is not worried about moral
standards as other grave and tangible aspects of life are surrounding him. That is why even a
criminal being innocent is unacceptable, but a revolutionary person killing innocent people is
acceptable. This shows the values of different societies according to their own standards. This is
what irritates Brecht very much which he tries to reject in his famous plays.
Raymond Williams has discussed six plays of Brecht to explain his point of view and sense of
a new tragedy:
a) The Three Penny Opera:
In this play, Brecht shows people buying and selling each other with cold heart but
with colour and wit. This is what life is and it seems that playwright is trying to
convey that we all pretend to be livelier and brighter than we are. Brecht opposes
such a kind of false society by the idea of true society.
b) Saint Joan of the Stockyard:
In this play, the clarity of Joan Dark in the labour struggle of Chicago is not only
shown as a false morality, but as a feeling to be a consciously rejected and replaced
by a new hardness. Brecht says that only force helps where force rules. For saying
this Joan is first suppressed and then glorified, in her former charitable innocence.
c) Die Massanhame:
In this play, Brecht offers what he takes to be a revolutionary morality, that the party
worker who shows too much human sympathy endangers revolutionary efforts and
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must be killed. The revolutionary who talks of necessary killing is like the honest
criminal or the generous whore. Brecht was able look into the connection and
contradictions between individual goodness and social action.
d) The Good Woman of Sezuan:
In this play, by dramatic presentation Brecht invites us to look at what happens to a
good person in a bad society. Shen Te is a conventional kind hearted prostitute.
Through her, Brecht wants to show us how goodness is exploited by gods and men.
Brecht rejected the way of sacrifice as he highly rejected the idea that suffering can
make us dignify. He had the courage to reject sacrifice as a dramatic emotion.
e) Mother Courage and Her Children:
It is dramatization of conflicting instincts, conflicting illusions and commanding
insights that are not lived thorough. In this play, a dumb girl, speaking for life, is
being killed. The living goes on with a living that is killed. Brecht uses all his dramatic
skill to arise some basic questions, which take us towards the rejection of treagedy.
f) The Life of Galileo:
In this play, the case of free choice is dramatized. Galileo deals with the responsibility
of the intellectual to defend his or her belief in the face of opposition from
established authorities, in Galileos case the Roman Catholic Church. We can admire
or scorn ( ) Galileo, but Brecht is not asking us to do this. He is only telling us that
what happens to consciousness when it caught in deadlock between individual and
social morality.
In the end, we can say that this is who Brecht rejected some of the old values of and
concept of tragedy, because he feels that the standards and values of the modern world have
considerably changed and do not have affinity with the past. It is for these reasons he asserts on
complex seeing regarding the concept of tragedy. In short, Brecht through his own philosophy of
tragedy has given a novel way to the concept of tragedy, and Raymond Williams has discussed it
quite commendably in his book Modern Tragedy.

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