The Tragic Hero and the Tragic Story in William Shakespeare's Writing

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The Tragic Hero and the Tragic Story in William Shakespeare's Writing Shakespeare's tragedies are, for the most part, stories of one person, the "hero," or at most two, to include the "heroine." Only the Love Tragedies (Romeo and Juliet; Antony and Cleopatra)are exceptions to this pattern. In these plays, the heroine is as much at the center of action as the hero. The rest of the tragedies, including Macbeth, have single stars, so the tragic story is concerned primarily with oneperson.

THE TRAGIC HERO ANDTHE TRAGIC "STORY"

* The tragic story leads up to, and includes, the death of the hero

* The suffering and calamity are
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Such exceptional suffering and calamity, then, affecting the hero, and generally extending far beyond him, so as to make the whole scene a scene of woe, are essential ingredients in tragedy, and the chief sources of the tragic emotions, and especially of pity.

ONLY GREAT MEN QUALIFY AS TRAGIC HEROES

* Peasants (merely because they're human beings) do not inspirepity and fear as great men do

* A Shakespearean tragedy, then, may be called a story of exceptional calamity leading to the death of a man of high estate!

The pangs of despised love and the anguish of remorse, we say, are the same in a peasant and a prince. But not to insist that they cannot be so when the prince is really a prince, when the story of a prince, or the general, has a greatness and dignity of its own is a mistake. His fate affects the welfare of a whole nation or empire; and when he falls suddenly from the height of earthly greatness to the dust, his fall produces a sense of contrast, of the powerlessness of man, and the omnipotence--perhaps the caprice--of Fate or Fortune, which no tale of private life could possibly rival. Such feelings are constantly invoked by Shakespeare's tragedies--again, in varying degrees.

To this point, then, we can extend the definition of
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