Thursday, August 29, 2013


The Tragedy - Pablo Picasso

I was asked to write a post on tragedy by a friend. This honestly, is a harder one to write. Cause it's rather personal to me, and I'm sure it's personal to many of my readership. Even if you have never really experienced personal tragedy it's a difficult subject to talk to to others about.

So what does define a tragedy? I think, when most people think of a a tragedy they imagine that it's a story where everyone dies in the end. However, I think this definition is somewhat misleading. It's possible to have most of the main characters die and still end the novel in a bittersweet manner. Conversely, it's also possible to have everyone live, and yet live in such a desolate state that tragedy is the only word for it.

So what makes a tragedy a tragedy? Tragedy is the lack of a happy ending. When things don't end well we call it a tragedy. It's not to do with the moral state of the characters, but rather the state of the character as the novel leaves off. This is why tragedy is often confused with death.

I think however, the way we view the death of a character as a pure tragedy is part of our empiricist culture. To an empiricist death is the ultimate evil, because death steals away the senses. And since the empiricist thinks that life lies in the senses, death seems to them to be a preternatural terror. The ending of all things. That's what we covered in the story of the Epic of Gilgamesh post.

To the Christian death can be a tragedy but it depends on the context. When the main character dies and goes to heaven, like Jean Valjean does in Les Mis, I would be loathe to classify it as a tragedy. Eternity with God is a wonderful thing. Loss though... that's a different story. And I think that's a different post. It will take more emotional energy to write about that then I am willing to spend right now. But suffice to say for now, loss is tragedy... because we have to go through life without someone. Meaningless death is also tragedy... because of what awaits afterward.

Life can also be tragic as well as death. If you leave your characters in a miserable situation at the end, even if they still are alive, that can in some ways be worse then just simply killing them. The real tragedy I think is a person who has to live on and on in loveless situation.

"Do not pity the dead Harry, pity the living. And above all those who live without love." 

No comments:

Post a Comment