PERIPETEIA


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Forum Home > Shakespeare > Shakespearian Tragedy

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 837

Want to know the difference between Aristotelian & Hegelian theories of tragedy? Confused about the tragic protagonist's fatal flaw(s)? Heard about the term peripeteia, but not sure what it really means? Join Exeter Uni.'s Dr Briony Frost for an exploration of all things Shakespeare and tragedy. The main plays we will focus on are 'Hamlet' & 'King Lear' but we may also reference, 'Othello', 'Macbeth' and the others...

April 25, 2016 at 4:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 837

Dear seminarees, 


With the expansion of peripeteia membership & the popularity of this topic, I thought it worthwhile reiterating a few points about seminar etiquette.


The best way to think about the seminar is as a conversation taking place between the seminar leader and the attendees. Obviously we want as many people as possible to be able to contribute to the conversation. But if everyone tries to speak at once all we'll get is babble. So, if you want to join in the discussion please join in the flow. Just as you wouldn't butt into a real-life conversation, try not to interrupt, but instead, add to the discussion. Sometimes you may have to wait for the leader to get back to your question or point. Be patient and always bear in mind that our guest academic will be trying to juggle multiple responses while keeping the seminar moving forward coherently. 


However tempting it may be, please also refrain from posting 'shout outs' to your mates. This wastes time, is inappropriate in an academic discussion and is irritating for everyone else. Finally, please remain polite. If you disagree with someone else's points, that's fine, in fact it's useful. Just make sure your response is constructive and aware that all texts are open to different readings. Respect other people's and they might respect yours. 


We hope you find the seminar interesting and useful. Good luck. :)


April 28, 2016 at 8:22 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Briony Frost
Member
Posts: 142

Peripeteia: Nature of Tragedy Seminar

1. Defining Tragedy:

Contemporary playwright Thomas Heywood stated in his Apology for Actors that “Tragedies begin in calm and end in tempest…if we present a tragedy, we include the fatal and abortive ends of such as commit notorious murders, which is aggravated and acted with all the art that may be, to terrify men from the abhorred practices” (Bk 3, 1612).

• How far does this description fit the tragedy you have studied? (e.g. Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth...).

• How might it work to "terrify men from abhorred practices"? Discuss with examples from any tragedy you have studied.

2. Catharsis:

Aristotle (Greek philosopher), writing considerably earlier than Heywood, thought that one of the functions of tragedy was to "arouse pity and fear" and then to "accomplish its catharsis of such emotions" (trans. Bywater, 1909, 15). But what does "catharsis" mean? Aristotle's works are read in translation, so there are a range of ideas about how to interpret the word:

a) It is a "purging" or a cleansing action, associated with medical discourse. John Milton (seventeenth century epic poet and politician), for instance, writes that tragedy balanced the mind by "raising pity and fear, or terrour, to purge the mind of those or suchlike passions...in physick, things of melancholick hue and quality are used against melancholy" (cited Butcher, 1951, 247-8).

b) It is a kind of purification process, borrowing from religious language.

c) C20th scholar Humphrey House suggests that catharsis might mean "a restoration of proper equilibrium in the mind" (1967, 106). He writes that "tragedy rouses emotions from potentiality to activity by worthy and adequate stimuli; it controls them by directing them to the right objects in the right way; and exercises them, within the limits of the play, as the emotions of the good man would be exercised" (109-11). He sees it as a kind of emotional training, then, a way of experiencing through drama's mimesis, how good men cope with disaster.

• Considering the text/s you have studied, discuss whether you think catharsis works as a purgative, purification, or pedagogically. Keep a look out for other medical, religious, or educative language. Concentrate particularly on the final acts and scenes.

3. The Tragic Self:

Garrett A. Sullivan Jr. suggests that the tragic self is born at the moment that a subject comes into conflict with the social institution: "when the demands of selfhood are incompatible with loyalty to authority" ("Tragic Subjectivities," 85).

• Looking closely at either of Hamlet's speeches "the play's the thing," end of act II, or "to be or not to be" III, i, see if you can show what he means by this in this play. You can also do this for Macbeth or King Lear by looking at their soliloquies (Macbeth's 'dagger' speech would be good for this and Lear's 'blow winds' rants in III, ii).

• You may also want to think about whether moments of peripeteia (reversal of fortune) and/or anagnorisis (a change from ignorance to knowledge, recognition of the self or of another's true identity) contribute to this birth of the tragic self.

--


April 28, 2016 at 1:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Briony Frost
Member
Posts: 142

Hello all, 

Welcome to our seminar on Shakespearean tragedy! There are some questions and topics to get us started in the post above. I'm looking forward to our discussion!

Best,

Briony

--


April 28, 2016 at 2:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

Hi Briony, Mr Bowen will be joining later but asked me to welcome you on his behalf. Thank you for giving up your time!

April 28, 2016 at 2:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Briony Frost
Member
Posts: 142

Thanks, Hope. Never a problem to contribute here! I enjoy it.

--


April 28, 2016 at 2:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Annabelle Brown
Member
Posts: 7

Hello! 

April 28, 2016 at 2:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Briony Frost
Member
Posts: 142

Hello Annabelle!

--


April 28, 2016 at 2:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Tara Williams
Member
Posts: 22

Hi

April 28, 2016 at 2:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Andrew Muir
Member
Posts: 16

Hello all, Just a note to say that I had difficulties getting connected to the page so others may be battling their way in, also.

 

now, to read back on what I've missed

April 28, 2016 at 2:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

mrpeel
Member
Posts: 25

Same here Andrew - and my page isn't updating.

April 28, 2016 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Samantha Howarth
Member
Posts: 2

Hello, Dr Frost, thank you for taking the time to host this seminar.


April 28, 2016 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

GMann
Member
Posts: 19

Hello! :)

April 28, 2016 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Ffion
Member
Posts: 2

I have to keep refreshing the webpage to see new comments...

April 28, 2016 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Andrew Muir
Member
Posts: 16

Dear Dr Frost - Do you have a favourite definition of tragedy, either from those above or elsewhere?

April 28, 2016 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hafren Alys Park
Member
Posts: 26

hello, very much looking forward to this seminar!

April 28, 2016 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

mrpeel
Member
Posts: 25

either my machine has died or noone is speaking.  Which is it?

April 28, 2016 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Annabelle Brown
Member
Posts: 7

In King Lear, Lear's basic flaw at the beginning of the play seems to be that he values appearances above reality however what do you regard as his fatal flaw by the end of the play?

April 28, 2016 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peachy
Member
Posts: 8

Which types of tragedy do you think Shakespeare may have known of, and which do you think his works usually subscribed to, especially in his later works?

April 28, 2016 at 2:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Andrew Muir
Member
Posts: 16

mrpeel at April 28, 2016 at 2:13 PM

either my machine has died or noone is speaking.  Which is it?

I think the site is having a problem.  I had to use an old browser to gain access, on my current browser it repeatedly said that the page has a problem loading.

 

**** Sorry for the computer talk but it may be helpful for those with problems to know that they are not alone *** 

April 28, 2016 at 2:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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