Greek tragedy developed from rituals associated with the god Dionysus and remained religiously oriented throughout history. The tragedies were therefore, dramatic recreations of myths about conflict between generations as represented by gods and heroes. The characters of tragedy wore their mythical and legendary origins- except when Euripides stripped them of their glory and they retained the stature of historical figures from the heroic age. Thus, the tragic ideas of the playwrights include a conception of tragedy based on the religious views of the time period. Renaissance brought a secularization of the arts, literature and theatre. There was absolutely no connection between theatre and religion. It also brought the individualization of the human being as distinct from society in general. In Renaissance tragedy therefore, the entire emphasis is laid upon human action independent of destiny and the responsibility of the individual in bringing about his ruin. In keeping with Renaissance emphasis upon the infinite capacities of the individual, the Elizabethan tragedies particularly Shakespeare’s explore the limits of man’s action in this universe. Modern implies more than that which is current. It suggests a disinterest in the past and in the values and forms of that past. With the emergence of Ibsen in the late Nineteenth Century came the concept of middle class tragedy growing out of social problems and issues. The little man has gradually taken the place that the illustrious man presided over for many centuries. This paper examines the relationship between the concept and the characteristics of tragedy in the classical, Renaissance and the modern periods. The historical research methodology is employed to dissect the diversity of the tragic conception and characteristics of tragedy in the periods under study. It is established that the tragic conception and characteristics from the time of the Greeks to the present has undergone a metamorphosis in definitions and experience.
Citation: Chidi-Igbokwe M.A (2022) The Concept and Characteristics of Classical, Renaissance and Modern Tragedies, European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies, Vol.10, No.8, pp.42-61
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