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Characteristics of a Shakespearean Tragedy The Following is a summary of the discussion by A.C. Bradley, a recognized authority on ‘Shakespearean tragedy. 1, Tragedy is concerned primarily with one person 2. The story is one of exceptional suffering leading to the death of the hero. Usually the suffering is contrasted with previously displayed happiness and joy. 3. The tragedy involves @ person of high estate, This “Tragic Hero” must be of high status or else there is no where for them to fall. As a result, her/his fate affects the welfare of a whole ration or empire. 4, The hero undergoes a sudden reversal of fortune. 5. This reversal arouses the emotions of pity and fear in the audience, which is called catharsis. The reversal may frighten and awe, making the audience or readers feel that s/he is the “plaything” of a higher power that may smile on the hero for a time and then strike them down in their pride. 6. The tragic fate of the hero is often triggered by a tragic flaw in their character. This indicates that the hero contributed in some measure to the disaster which kills them. The calamities and catastrophe can be blamed on the deeds of human beings, and the main source of these deeds is the tragic hero. 7. Shakespeare often introduces abnormal conditions of mind such as: madness, hallucinations or manic depression. ‘Supernatural elements are often introduced. Much of the plot seems to hinge on “chance or “accident”. }0. Both an external conflict of persons or groups and an internal conflict, or torment within the soul of the tragic hero exist. 11. The ultimate power in the tragic world is a moral order — the conflict between good and evil ‘The entire world order is disrupted as a result of the tragedy. 12. Acycle of tragedy must be completed: good > evil > chaos > death > re-assertion of good and restoration of order. ‘Elements of the Shakespearean Tragic Hero: 1. Begins in a position of greatness. Not just rank, but also embodies general virtues and morals of the society 2. Has one tragic flaw (hamartia) which causes his downfall. This flaw can be any of the following, or a combination of the following: a) amoral flaw in character b)_ intellectual weakness ©) error in judgment ) error due to inadequate knowledge of particular circumstances 3. Experiences Alienation either self imposed or through desertion. 4. Good and evil are re-affirmed when the hero dies. His punishment is a sign of justice, and re- establishment of order.