View Full Version : Put away the tissues - this is tragedy!

mona amon
04-22-2013, 06:27 AM
Just read Oedipus Rex in a most cheerful mood. It was an easy read and a cracker, and I couldn't help being tickled at the way everyone kept popping up exactly when they were needed - "Let's ask the blind prophet - Ah, there he is!" or "Go and find the Corinthian Shepherd whom no one has seen for the past 40 years - Oh, there he comes!" :D

Anyway, I already knew the story, as I suppose most people would, including Sophocles' original audience, and the main entertainment seemed to lie in watching avidly Oedipus's reaction as each new horror was revealed to him - pretty ghoulish!

Then it got me thinking - whatever my reactions to plays like Hamlet and Othello and King Lear, I never felt moved to tears no matter how high the stage was piled with bodies by the end. So is it just me, or is the purpose of Tragedy something quite other than making you feel sad?

04-22-2013, 09:46 AM
I usually find comedy more moving that tragedy as well. Tragedy seems like it needs a better resolution. I would rather watch Midsummer Nights Dream than Hamlet or Titus Andronicus or even Romeo and Juliet.

04-22-2013, 12:54 PM
I am a big cry baby with sad books. So much so, I have to be careful where I read them. Maybe I would not be so upset reading Greek literature or Shakespeare as I have to work harder to understand those writing styles.

04-22-2013, 02:02 PM
The purpose of tragedy is cathartic; exorcising the demons and showing you an example of someone who made mistakes so you yourself will not make them. Aristotle said that tragedy is a mixture of pity and fear- emotions that do not necessarily involve tears.

mona amon
04-23-2013, 03:16 AM
I guess the heroes of tragedy are so much larger than life, and the things that happen to them so fantastical, that it's difficult to empathize. We gaze at their superhuman sufferings with detached awe.

I am a big cry baby with sad books. So much so, I have to be careful where I read them.

Me too! :)