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Term Definition

In its purest form, the tragedy emerged with the ancient Greeks, who wrote plays in which the main heroes came up against the forces of fate and were eventually defeated by those forces, despite all their heroic strengths. In common language, a "tragedy" has come to refer to simply any seriously unfortunate event. However, this ignores the deep philosophical cadence of fatalism that surrounds the original meaning of tragedy.

What is a tragedy?

No, a tragedy isn’t when your computer crashes while writing your graduation project – well, okay, maybe it is, but at least you could always buy an essay if you needed to. 

But this tragedy is a dramatized play or literary element that is serious in nature. It is the opposite of a farce.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a tragedy as “a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man; a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that elicits pity or terror; the literary genre of tragic dramas.”

Tragedies are those literary works that make us cry and angry at the same time.

Examples of tragic stories and plays

Some of the greatest tragedies of all time were written or influenced by the famous playwright William Shakespeare. These tragedies focused mainly on mythical beliefs or were rooted in the monarchy. Authors used human suffering to show the fates not only took revenge on average men but gods and royals as well.

Here are some of the most popular tragedies to come from ancient and medieval times:

But Shakespeare isn’t the only person who can, or rather could, write tragedies. Anyone with literary skills and artistic flair (like the research paper service writers from Ultius) has the ability to make a dramatic story rooted in human suffering. To start look at real life events. Nothing says tragedy than real life. Authors often pull elements from their works from what they see on the streets or the current events making headlines in the news.

Next, look to celebrities and unpopular government figures. Tragedies touch people’s heart and cause them to feel the anguish. And, rarely, would a story about a suffering politician of celebrity not make a successful drama. 

Finally, get inspired. Read the old works written by the masters. Hundreds of years later we are still talking about Shakespeare and his tragedies. He must have known what he was doing.

Origin of tragedies in literature

Tragedy comes from the old Greek language and means a drama based on the suffering and devastation of humans. Most of the old Greek myths, parables, and parodies were tragedies. And it is a form of drama that causes the audience to feel anger, sadness, laughter, etc. during the drama. In other words, it is a literary device meant to invoke emotions at all levels.

The roots of the modern tragedy are traced more than 2500 years ago. Famous Greek authors such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides penned the first dramatizations. And these great poets and scholars were the inspiration for tragedy masters such as Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Racine, Poe, and Schiller.

Since Aristotle's Poetics were written in 335 BCE, tragedies are used to determine what genre a film falls into, and it is commonly used to create new genres. And while this literary device is well-rounded, includes elements from various genres, and increasingly is reshaping the future of dramas. And, while these changes have been the catalyst for new creations, authors still use this tried-and-true method to entertain.

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Synonyms: tragedy

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