Renaissance tragedy

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Renaissance tragedy revived the classical Greek tragedy fusing Elizabethan drama and storyline complexities with a more morbid ending (in which the protagonist usually dies, compared to Greek tragedy in which he lives). The Renaissance tragedy was most prominent in England where famous playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton and Christopher Marlowe pioneered the form. Most tragedies fit a certain archetype which is explored in this article.

Tragedy styles[edit]

Tragedy of circumstance[edit]

Most plays of this type deal with monarchies, as monarchs are born into their situations, and do not choose them. An example of this would be Hamlet; his father was murdered by his uncle who wanted the throne of Denmark for himself. Already the basis of the play revolves around the tragic circumstance Hamlet is already in, by no fault of his own. Hamlet combines a number of tragedy archetypes, but its basis is in his situation, rather than his choice.

An Ancient Greek example could be Oedipus the King who was abandoned by his mother, adopted by a king, and gets married (accidentally) to his mother, who abandoned him also.

Tragedy of miscalculation[edit]

These revolve around the protagonist's choice. An example would be Macbeth whom after taking the witches predictions to heart, along with Lady Macbeth, murders the King of Scotland, Duncan, and then goes on to murder Banquo who may threaten their power. This is a miscalculation because Duncan's son comes back with an army from England to oppose Macbeth which leads to both his and lady Macbeth's deaths. Hamlet also uses this plot for its finale, when Claudius tries to poison Hamlet, but ends up poisoning Gertrude, which was a miscalculation.

Revenge Tragedy[edit]

see revenge play for more detailed description

This could combine the previous two. Again Hamlet contains a revenge element because he plots to murder his uncle. An example of a true revenge play is The Revenger's Tragedy which Vindice sets out on murdering dukes and nobles who are part of a new government responsible for murdering his love.

See also[edit]