Tragedy or Comedy? – Final Project
The following sample chapter will include definitions of both
Tragedy and Comedy. An analysis of each play will then follow. The chapter will
also include an explanation of how each work embodies a specific theme and
compare/contrast how one work’s approach to a theme or concept differs from
that of the other play.
One of the most widely used styles of
literature is Tragedy. Tragic is an
adjective that describes numerous sad or depressing incidents that plague
everyday life. Tragedy however is a bit more specific. Literary Tragedy is a
written piece consisting of courageous and noble characters that must confront
powerful obstacles being either external or from within. These noble characters
are the epitome of bravery because they display depth of the human spirit in
the face of danger, defeat and death. Tragedy became a popular type of drama
with ancient Greeks. Tragedies during the ancient Greek era had powerful and
influential protagonists living happy fulfilling lives, not your typical
everyday people. During the progression of Greek plays, the protagonists’ lives
were turned upside down resulting in suffering and deep agony. Falling from
high to the lowest possible status is essential in tragedy because it makes the
suffering much more distressing. (Sewall and Conversi)
Comedy is a literary genre and type
of dramatic work that is satirical in its tone. The idea of this dramatic work
is achievement over unpleasant circumstance by creating comic effect leading to
relief with happy of successful conclusions. Thus, the purpose of comedy is to
please the audience. There are five types of comedy in literature. Romantic Comedy
is the type of drama involving the theme of love leading to a happy conclusion.
Comedy of Humors is a form of drama typical at the end of the 16th
century and beginning of the 17th century. Beliefs that people’s actions are governed by
dominate bodily humor. Comedy of Manners also referred to, as “Restoration or
Artificial” comedy is a form of dramatic genre that deals with intriguing
relations of women and men living in sophisticated societies. Sentimental
Comedy contains both comedy and sentimental tragedy. Tragicomedy contains both
tragic and comedic elements blending both essentials to lighten the overall
“Antigone” is a tragedy
by the ancient Greek playwright Sophocles written around 441 BC. King Oedipus has died leaving the Kingdom of Thebes to his two
sons, Eteocles and Polyneices. The king declared that his two sons are supposed
to take turns as rulers. They agree initially but after Eteocles refuses to
step down after one year, the two brothers fight over power. Polyneices attacks
Thebes, leading to civil war, and in the end both brothers are dead. Creon,
their uncle, assumes the role of king. He gives a state funeral to Eteocles but
orders that the body of Polyneices is left to rot in the sun as an example to
Oedipus’s daughter, meets her sister Ismene at the gates to Creon’s palace in
Thebes. Antigone feels obligated to bury her brother Polyneices despite Creon’s
orders and asks her sister for help. Ismene refuses in fear of her uncle’s
response to them disobeying his orders. Antigone stands firm in her initial
thoughts and gives her brother a proper burial. Creon commands Antigone to be
entombed alive. Antigone mourns her fate. The Chorus is divided in loyalty
between Antigone and Creon.
sickness plagues Thebes, and neighboring cities bear Thebes ill will. This
troubles Creon, and he asks the Chorus for council. They advise him to yield
and release Antigone. Creon agrees. A messenger arrives and relates to the
Chorus what happened at the tomb. The messenger says that Creon and his men
went to bury Polyneices and to release Antigone, only to discover that she had
killed herself. Haemon, weeping over her body, then kills himself before their
eyes. Eurydice, Creon’s wife, overhears the messenger. Creon arrives and openly
accepts responsibility for the deaths of Antigone and Haemon. A second
messenger arrives and tells him that his wife, too, has committed suicide.
Creon prays for death. The Chorus delivers one of the moral lessons of the
tragedy: Obedience to the laws of the gods comes first.
Importance of Being Earnest” is a comedy of manners written by Oscar Wilde and first
performed around 1895 in London. Algernon Moncrieff, nephew of the aristocratic Lady Bracknell,
is compelled by necessity to live a more or less double life to avoid being
completely at the mercy of his Aunt Augusta. To escape from her dull dinner
parties, he invents a wholly fictitious friend named Bunbury, whose precarious
state of health requires Algernon’s absence from London whenever his aunt
summons him to attendance.
Algernon’s friend, Jack Worthing,
is forced into a similar subterfuge for quite a different reason. He has under
his care a young ward named Cecily Cardew, who lives at Jack’s country estate
in Hertfordshire under the care of a stern governess, Miss Prism. Jack thinks
it necessary to preserve a high moral tone in the presence of Cecily and her
governess. To escape from this restraint, he invents an imaginary brother named
Ernest, who is supposed to be quite a reprobate and whose name and general mode
of behavior Jack assumes during his frequent trips to London.
To complicate matters, Jack falls
in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, the daughter of Algernon’s aunt, Lady
Bracknell. Gwendolen returns his love, but in particular she falls in love with
his name, Ernest, of which she is very fond. When Lady Bracknell learns of his
intentions toward Gwendolen, she naturally wants to know something of his
family history, but he can supply nothing more definite than the fact that he
was found in a leather bag at the Victoria Railway Station, and that he was
raised by a benefactor. Given that his parentage is unknown, Lady Bracknell
refuses to consider his marriage to her daughter.
Jack realizes that the time has
come to put an end to Ernest. He even goes so far as to appear at the manor
house in Hertfordshire in deep mourning for his brother Ernest. His friend
Algernon, “Bunburying” as usual, precedes him, however, posing as Ernest.
Cecily takes an immediate interest in this supposed brother of her guardian.
When Jack and Algernon come face to face, Jack promptly announces that his
brother Ernest was unexpectedly called back to London and is leaving at once.
Algernon, however, having fallen in love with Cecily, refuses to leave. Cecily,
in turn, confesses that it has always been her dream to love someone named
Algernon, realizing that his hopes
of marrying Cecily depend on his name, decides to have himself rechristened
Ernest. For that purpose, he calls on the local clergyman, the Reverend Canon
Chasuble, but Jack precedes him with a like request. Dr. Chasuble thus has an
engagement for two christenings at five-thirty that afternoon.
Gwendolen arrives at the manor
house in search of Jack. Because both Gwendolen and Cecily believe that they
are in love with the same man, the nonexistent Ernest, their initial politeness
to each other soon gives way to open warfare. When Jack and Algernon appear
together, the real identities of the two pretenders are established. Both girls
are furious. At first Jack and Algernon upbraid each other for their mutual
duplicity, but they finally settle down to tea and console themselves with
muffins. Cecily and Gwendolen at last decide to forgive their suitors, after
Algernon admits that the purpose of his deception was to meet Cecily, and Jack
maintains that his imaginary brother was his excuse to go to London to see
Gwendolen. Both girls agree that in matters of grave importance—such as
marriage—style and not sincerity is the vital thing.
Lady Bracknell, arriving in search
of her daughter, discovers her nephew engaged to Cecily. Afraid that the girl,
like her guardian, may possibly have only railway station antecedents, Lady
Bracknell demands to know Cecily’s origin. She is informed that Cecily is the
granddaughter of a very wealthy man and the heiress to 130,000 pounds. When
Lady Bracknell willingly gives her consent to the marriage, Jack refuses to
allow the match, pointing out that Cecily cannot marry without his consent until
she comes of age, and that, according to her grandfather’s will, is when she
turns thirty-five. However, he says he will give his consent the moment Lady
Bracknell approves of his marriage to Gwendolen.
Lady Bracknell’s objection to Jack
as a suitable husband for Gwendolen remains, but the mystery is cleared up to
Lady Bracknell’s satisfaction when it is revealed that Miss Letitia Prism,
Cecily’s governess, is the nurse who left Lord Bracknell’s house with a
perambulator containing a male infant that she placed in a leather handbag and
left in the cloakroom of the Victoria Station. The infant is the son of Lady
Bracknell’s sister, a circumstance that makes Jack Algernon’s older brother.
Jack’s Christian name turns out to be Ernest. The Reverend Chasuble is relieved
of his two christenings that afternoon, and Gwendolen is happy that she is
actually going to marry a man named Ernest.
Edgar Allan. “The Tell-Tale Heart.”