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Modern Tragedy vs. Classic Tragedy

             In the century after Sophocles, the philosopher Aristotle analyzed tragedy. His definition: an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude, through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions. According to Aristotle, the diction must be elevated and the central character of a tragedy must not be so virtuous that instead of feeling pity or fear at his downfall, we are simply outraged. Also, the character cannot be so evil that for the sake of justice we desire his or her misfortune. The character should be someone who is famous or prosperous, like Oedipus or Medea. Aristotle believed that natural disasters such as floods, accidents, children's deaths, though terribly pathetic can never be tragic in the dramatic sense because they do not occur as a result of an individual man's grandeur and virtue.
             Shakespeare all but reinvented tragedy and his play Macbeth is one of his finest. Macbeth embodies all the necessary traits for the essential tragic hero: he is a great warrior, a great man, and destined to be king. He has a flaw "his ambition, which leads to his tragic downfall. Shakespeare took the idea of tragedy one step further by introducing additional characters that rivaled the hero. .
             What was once thought of as a tragedy is now merely a type of tragedy. Modern tragedies, although exhibiting elements of the classic Greek tragedies, have evolved into more broad and complex drama. Arthur Miller's play, "A View from the Bridge-, is an example of modern tragedy. Miller believed the tragic mode was archaic and the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were. Miller's ideal tragic hero is one who is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, who is willing to take on challenges and who will fight a battle that he could not have possibly won. That is what makes the audience accept him as a hero.

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