King Lear Tragedy Genre Study

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  • Created by: bethg
  • Created on: 11-05-16 14:34

1. Research the genre of tragedy and note down key features and terminology associated with it.

  • According to Aristotle, tragedy has six main elements: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle (scenic effect), and song (music), of which the first two are primary.

  • Aristotle says that "pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves."

  • Tragedy is a drama or literary work in which a main character is a noble, admirable character who falls from a position of some prominence to disaster or even death. That character typically is a person of dignified or heroic stature (in classical tragedies and in Shakespeare, the tragic hero is of noble original, often a king, queen, prince, or princess) whose downfall may result from outside forces or from a weakness within the character, which is known as a tragic flaw or hamartia.

  • The depiction of fatal error or misjudgement that causes the downfall of a good person.

  • Emotions such as pity and fear must stir up in the audience

  • The outcome is always one or more deaths.

  • Fate is always mentioned.

  • There is hardly any hope as the end draws near.

  • Peripeteia (reversal of fortune brought by tragic flaw)

2. Decide on how well Lear fits into this genre: create a model map with links between the play and genre.

  • Serious or somber theme - The end of the play especially (when Cordelia dies) is so depressing and hopeless that some scholars have argued that Lear is actually an absurdist play, a play which demonstrates that human life and suffering are ultimately meaningless.

  • A tragic flaw - King Lear exercises a serious lack of good


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