Tragedy is an
imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude. Of importance is the form of action, not the narrative, that emphasizes pity
and fear and purges these emotions.
defined the elements of tragedy after he had observed these elements in the great classical plays of Sophocles.
1. Plot ‑ arrangement of incidents
2. Character ‑ reveals moral purpose, indicates what man elects to do or avoids.
3. Diction ‑ language, expression of meaning in words
4. Thought ‑ the saying what is possible in given circumstances
5. Spectacle ‑ production elements of staging of the play. Spectacle is the least artistic element as it relies
on viewing the play whereas the other elements are inherent in the reading of the play.
6. Song ‑
‑ a change by which the action veers round to its opposite. Thus in Oedipus the messenger comes to cheer Oedipus and
free him from his alarms about his mother, but by revealing who he is.
‑ the chorus should be regarded as one of the actors, should be an integral part of the whole, and share in the action. The
chorus often serves as a moral norm in indicating what is a correct or incorrect (moral or immoral) action on the part of
a character. Additionally, the chorus usually provides background and supplemental information to establish the plot elements
of the play.
‑ sin, error in judgment, failure, fault,
Hubris ‑ wanton arrogance or violence, arising from passion or recklessness, insolent disregard of moral laws
or restraints. The tragic hero often demonstrates hubris in disregarding moral
law through arrogance. An example is Kreon in Antigone in his disregard for the higher law of funeral rites over
the law of man when he declares his nephew shall not be buried.
The term hubris is found in Aeschylus (Eumenides), Sophocles (Oedipus at Colonnus, Electra),
Euripides and Aristophanes (The Frogs)