The Language of Tragedy

The Language of Tragedy

The Language of Tragedy

The Language of Tragedy

Excerpt

The present work is an exploration into the nature of verse tragedy. Specifically, it attempts to discover the relationship between the language of plays written in verse and the dramatic nature of the form. The first chapter consists of an analysis of verse drama from this point of view, directed toward establishing certain essential general principles. The subsequent chapters are centered in the analysis of selected plays. These chapters follow a chronological order, and the discussion of individual works is preceded by a consideration of the circumstances which in any given period of dramatic development, from the Elizabethan age to the present time, helped to shape the various styles of poetic drama. The aim is primarily critical rather than historical, however, and therefore many plays which deserve a place in a systematic and exhaustive survey of poetic drama are not included or find only passing mention.

This study is confined largely to tragedy. The principles developed cannot be applied without modification to other types of dramatic composition -- comedy, for instance -- which presumably demand a separate inquiry. It has been found necessary, however, to take into account certain plays which are not in any strict sense tragedies, either because of the bearing which they have had in the development of particular dramatic styles, or because of some special insight which they afford into the nature of poetic tragedy itself. This is particularly the case in the last chapter, which is concerned with the modern age; for the characteristic features of the important dramatic traditions of our times have had the effect of breaking down or obscuring the distinction between dramatic genres, which in former times was more strictly observed. The study is confined, further, to English drama for the most part. Theoretically, there is no reason why other tragedy, notably Greek and French, should not have been included. The chief practical consideration which dictated the limitation was that the method of analysis employed requires something more than a working familiarity with the language. However, to the extent that they . . .

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