viernes, 13 de julio de 2018

THE MYTHOS OF AUTUMN - FRYE ON TRAGEDY

Mythos
Northrop Frye asserts in Anatomy of Criticism (1957) that all narratives fall into one of four mythoi.  Each mythos has six phases, and is associated with a season of the European year (comedy with springtime, fairytale with summer, tragedy with autumn, and satire with winter).
  • Season: Autumn
  • Period of the day: Evening
  • Period of life: Late maturity (midlife - seniority)
  • Period of Western culture: Eighteenth century (from Renaissance to industrialism)
This phase of the mythos, associated with decadence, produces a mythos, or narrative category of literature, known as tragedy.
The argument is made more complex, however, by the fact that adjacent mythoi tend to merge. Tragedy and comedy contrast rather than blend; on the other hand, tragic extends from high epic to bitter and ironic realism. The procedure used to define each of the mythoi—including tragedy—follows a similar pattern throughout and derives from Frye’s attempt to answer three questions: What is the structure of each mythos? What are the typical characters of each? And what are the six phases within each category? It is more convenient, I think, to look at the method and structure of Frye’s argument from the viewpoint of these three questions than from the perspective of the mythoi considered seriatim. My aim is not to summarize the content of his lengthy exposition but to observe the kinds of criteria he employs to define such concepts as plot and character and to see how he uses these categories to differentiate the mythoi. Underlying his definitions of each of these is a method which remains fairly constant throughout. 
The first three phases of one mythos are always related 
to
 the first three of an adjacent mythos, but the relation is seen as occurring only within opposing halves of the major dialectic, whereas the relation between the last three phases of any two mythoi occurs only within the same half of the innocence-experience dichotomy. This means, for example, that there can be no merging between the first three phases of comedy and tragedy, since they are opposite, not adjacent, mythoi. It also means that there can be no relation between (say) the first three phases of tragedy and satire because both of these mythoi lie within the “realistic” half of the cycle.

Autumn / Tragedy: 
1. Complete innocence, 
2. Youthful innocence of inexperience, 
3. Completion of an ideal, 
4. Individual’s faults,  - To this fourth phase, high mimetic tragedy, belong Shakespearean tragedies in general.
5. Natural law, 
6.World of shock and horror

Phases 4–6 of tragedy and satire (including phase 4, high mimetic) are parallel to each other. The high mimetic satire is the irony of explicit realism and the all-too-human hero/ine; a good example may be Russian nineteenth-century novels, especially those by Lev Tolstoy.
Whatever combination of criteria Frye appeals to, it is clear that when he defines “phase” as a stage of a mythos, he is not referring to literary kinds, a topic reserved for the Fourth Essay. He is speaking rather of broad narrative movements which extend beyond, as well as cut across, individual literary works. A phase may be an isolable part of a whole work, like one book of The Faerie Queene or Dante’s vision of the Empyrean Heavens at the end of the Paradiso, or it may encompass a group of writings by a single author, like Shakespeare’s romantic comedies (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like ItThe Merry Wives of WindsorThe Winter’s Tale). A phase may include works whose common feature is a particular rhetorical convention, like the symposium device (AC, 202–3); or its definition may largely depend on the perspective of the audience, as in fifth-phase comedy.
As already indicated, Frye conceives of each phase of a given mythos as parallel to a phase in the adjacent mythos. To pose the issue as a question: What are the similarities between between tragic irony and ironic tragedy, and between tragic epic and epic tragedy? 
The distinction between any pair of these categories, Frye says, “is tenuous, but not quite a distinction without a difference” (AC, 177). 

Let us consider one more example in which we can observe still different criteria being used to establish the parallels. The similarity between second-phase epic (fairytale) and tragedy, Frye argues, is that both represent the innocent youth of the hero. In fairytale, this phase is “most familiar to us from the story of Adam and Eve in Eden before the Fall. [It] presents a pastoral and Arcadian world. . . . Its heraldic colors are green and gold, traditionally the colors of vanishing youth. . . . it tends to center on a youthful hero . . . [and] in later phases it is often recalled as a lost happy time or Golden Age” (AC, 199–200). The parallel phase of tragedy
corresponds to the youth of the storybook hero, and is in one way or another the tragedy of innocence in the sense of inexperience, usually involving young people. . . . The phase is dominated by the archetypal tragedy of the green and golden world, the loss of the innocence of Adam and Eve, who, no matter how heavy a doctrinal load they have to carry, will always remain dramatically in the position of children baffled by their first contact with an adult situation. (AC, 220)
Here the affinity is based on several distinctions. The stage in the life of the hero, the archetype of Adam and Eve, the vision of innocence or inexperience, the green- and golden-world imagery are all characteristics common to both second-phase tragedy and romance. Frye can thus establish the parallel relations between the phases by appealing either to a single criterion, like the size of the social unit in sixth-phase comedy and romance, or to a wide range of criteria like those just mentioned. The criteria can extend, moreover, from something as particular as imagery or the age of the hero to something as general as the vision of society embodied in a literary work.


Autumn: Tragedy
Introduction
In tragedy the focus is on individuals: the tragedy is in the hero/ine’s isolation, not the villain’s betrayal, in fact the villain is often part of the hero/ine.  The story begins with a hero/ine who has comparatively free will that moves him/her into a world of causation.  This world of causation is dependent on a belief in natural law or fate, although it does not necessarily attempt to answer questions about why these events happen so much as shows the effects of them. 
Plot
The basic revenge tragedy is at the heart of most tragedies although they can be considerably more complex:
·     Initial act: this act (a slight) provokes revenge and commonly comes from or is transmitted through another world, stretching the conception of nature and law beyond the visible world; it is not uncommon for this act to occur before the start of the story
·     Counterbalancing movement: an attempt is made to set the set things right
·     Resolution: in balancing out the first act, destruction is often spread beyond the individual hero/ine, affecting everyone else
At some point in the tragedy the audience must be able to see two possible futures for the tragic hero/ine: the one they could have had in which their path is more or less happy and peaceful... and the inevitable one.  The hero/ine cannot see both.
Characters
Tragic heroes reside at the top of the wheel of fortune, somewhere between the heavens and earth, between a paradisal freedom and a world of bondage.  They are inevitable conductors of power: instruments as well as victims of destruction.
Eiron
·     Withdrawing figure: decrees action
·     Soothsayer or prophet (counterpart to tricky slave): foresees the inevitable or at least more than the hero/ine does
·     Villain of Elizabethan drama (counterpart to vice): self-starting principle of malevolence, projection of author’s will
Alazon
·     Hero/ine (an impostor in the sense of being self-deceived by or dizzy with hybris): often begins as a semi-divine character, tragedy separates their divine pretence from his human actuality
·     Suppliant: often female, who presents picture of helplessness and destitution, which incites pathos; pity and terror are invoked by separation from the group
·     Messenger: focuses mood, usually announces catastrophe in Greek tragedy
The suppliant and messenger are structural counterparts to the bomolochoi (comic relief), or buffoons in comedy, although they do not possess the comic traits often associated with buffoonery.
·     Plain dealer (counterpart to the straight man in comedy): friend of the hero/ine or other outspoken critic of tragic action; represent social norms from which the hero/ine is gradually isolated; sometimes called a chorus character because serves the same role as the chorus in Greek tragedy
Traits
Time works to bring the inevitable causality and the catastrophic conclusion to the tragic process.  This conclusion makes love and the social structure irreconcilable and contending forces; tragedy is concerned with breaking up the family and opposing it to the rest of society.
Two reductive and useful but insufficient theories of tragedy:
·     Tragedy exhibits omnipotence of external fate.  This is insufficient because fate often becomes external only after the tragic process begins; the hero begins with free will.
·     An act that is primarily a violation of moral law, whether human or divine, sets the tragic process in motion.  This is insufficient because there are innocent sufferers in tragedy.
Tragedy lies somewhere between these two ideas.  It is helpful to consider this caveat: if the hero could not stand the story would be ironic, but if he hero could not fall it would be romantic.  The tragic hero must seem to be able to stand, but does not.
Phases of Tragedy
1.  Complete innocence: The hero who is dignified because of their innocence and courage is toppled; the hero is often a female in this phase
2.  Youthful innocence of inexperience:  The heroes and heroines are often young people first encountering the realities of adulthood; frequently a central character will survive so that the action closes with an adjustment to mature experience
3.  Completion of an ideal: The success or completion of hero/ine’s achievement is essential despite their tragic end, and a sense of serenity or peace often exists after their death because of their final accomplishment; these tragedies are commonly a sequel to a previous tragic event
4.  Individual’s faults: The hero/ine moves from innocence to experience, with their fall occurring as a result of hybris (overconfidence) and hamartia (fatal flaws). Shakespearean tragedy, in general, falls into this fourth mode, known as high mimetic tragedy.
5.  Natural law:  Natural law becomes prominent in these stories, overshadowing the hero/ine and allowing the audience to look down on the action; this phase includes any of the existential and fatalistic tragedies that deal more with metaphysical and theological questions rather than social or moral ones
6.  World of shock and horror:  These stories possess a strong element of demonic ritual in public punishments and depict a hero/ine in such deep agony or humiliation that they cannot achieve a heroic pose; cannibalism, mutilation, and torture are frequently present in this phase. Death, whether by suicide or unwittingly self-inflicted accident, comes as a release.

IMAGERY: Realistic
MODE: High mimetic
ANALOGY: Nature and reason
ORGANISING IDEAS: Love and form
This is but half of Frye’s claim, for he suggests also that a “full critical analysis” (AC, 158) will always want to take account of the latent content lying behind the manifest (i.e., displaced) content. As in Freudian analysis, the latent content is likely to be, if not repugnant, at least morally disagreeable. Frye’s illustration is from tragedy. This form shows, among other things, that humanity'ss acceptance of inevitability is a displacement of his bitter resentment against the obstacles that thwart his desires. “A Christian who believed the Greek gods, and those of any other polytheistic pantheon, to be nothing but devils would, if he were criticizing a tragedy of Sophocles, make an undisplaced or demonic interpretation of it. Such an interpretation would bring out everything Sophocles was trying not to say; but it could be a shrewd criticism of its latent or underlying demonic structure for all that” (AC, 157–58). In other words, the manifest content of Sophocles’ plays is a morally plausible form of what our latent, and therefore deepest, desires are. And it is this latent content which is structurally important for Frye because it lies in or near the realm of undisplaced myth. To be able to see this is to see “the factor which lifts a work of literature out of the category of the merely historical” (AC, 158). Thus 
Frye
 has made two claims about the value of seeing displacement as moral plausibility. On the one hand, it can help us to understand the meaning of individual archetypes, especially when their relation to some moral norm is unconventional. On the other hand, it can help us to see the mythical patterns, both angelic and demonic, which are structural principles of entire works.
 It is not insignificant that Frye’s own version of the “monomyth” is presented in connection with his theory:
The four mythoi that we are dealing with, [···] tragedy, [···] . . . be seen as four aspects of a central unifying myth. Pathos or catastrophe, whether in triumph or in defeat, is the archetypal theme of tragedy. 

That each of these four aspects of the “central unifying myth,” including pathos, appears also in the quest-myth, which has a fairytale or epic structure...

TRAGIC FICTIONAL MODES 

Tragic stories, when they apply to divine beings, may be called Dionysiac. These are stories of dying gods, like Hercules with his poisoned shirt and his pyre, Orpheus torn to pieces by the Bacchants or Maenads, Balder murdered by the treachery of Loki, Christ dying on the cross and marking with the words "Lamá sabachtani? Why hast thou forsaken me?" a sense of his exclusion, as a divine being, from the society of the Trinity. 
The association of a god's death with autumn or sunset does not, in literature, necessarily mean that he is a god "of" vegetation or the sun, but only that he is a god capable of dying, whatever his department. But as a god is superior to nature as well as to other men, the death of a god appropriately involves what Shakespeare, in Venus and Adonis, calls the "solemn sympathy" of nature, the word solemn having here some of its etymological connections with ritual. Ruskin's pathetic fallacy can hardly be a fallacy when a god is the hero of the action, as when the poet of The Dream of the Rood tells us that all creation wept at the death of Jesus Christ. Of course there is never any real fallacy in making a purely imaginative alignment between humanity and nature, but the use of "solemn sympathy" in a piece of more realistic fiction indicates that the author is trying to give his hero some of the overtones of the mythical mode. Ruskin's example of a pathetic fallacy is "the cruel, crawling foam" from Kingsley's ballad about a girl drowned in the tide. But the fact that the foam is so described gives to Kingsley's Mary a faint coloring of the myth of Andromeda. 
The same associations with sunset and the fall of the leaf linger in chivalric romance and fairytale, where the hero is still half a god. In romance or fairytale the suspension of natural law and the individualizing of the hero's exploits reduce nature largely to the animal and vegetable world. Much of the hero's life is spent with animals, or at any rate the animals that are incurable romantics, such as horses, dogs, and falcons, and the typical setting of romance is the forest. The hero's death or isolation thus has the effect of a spirit passing out of nature, and evokes a mood best described as elegiac. The elegiac presents a heroism unspoiled by irony. The inevitability in the death of Beowulf, the treachery in the death of Roland, the malignancy that compasses the death of the martyred saint, are of much greater emotional importance than any ironic complications of hybris and hamartia that may be involved. Hence the elegiac is often accompanied by a diffused, resigned, melancholy sense of the passing of time, of the old order changing and yielding to a new one: one thinks of Beowulf looking, while he is dying, at the great stone monuments of the eras of history that vanished before him. In a very late "sentimental" form the same mood is well caught in Tennyson's Passing of Arthur
Tragedy in the central or high mimetic sense, the fiction of the fall of a leader (he has to fall because that is the only way in which a leader can be isolated from his society), mingles the heroic with the ironic. In elegiac romance the hero's mortality is primarily a natural fact, the sign of his humanity; in high mimetic tragedy it is also a social and moral fact. The tragic hero has to be of a properly heroic size, but his fall is involved both with a sense of his relation to society and with a sense of the supremacy of natural law, both of which are ironic in reference. Tragedy belongs chiefly to the two indigenous developments of tragic drama in fifth-century Hellas and seventeenth-century Europe from Shakespeare to Racine. Both belong to a period of social history in which an aristocracy is fast losing its effective power but still retains a good deal of ideological prestige.
The central position of high mimetic tragedy in the five tragic modes, balanced midway between godlike heroism and all-too human irony, is expressed in the traditional conception of catharsis. The words pity and fear may be taken as referring to the two general directions in which emotion moves, whether towards an object or away from it. Naive chivalric romance, being closer to the wish-fulfillment dream, tends to absorb emotion and communicate it internally to the reader. Chivalric romance or fairytale, therefore, is characterized by the acceptance of pity and fear, which in ordinary life relate to pain, as forms of pleasure. It turns fear at a distance, or terror, into the adventurous; fear at contact, or horror, into the marvellous, and fear without an object, or dread (Angst) into a pensive melancholy. It turns pity at a distance, or concern, into the theme of chivalrous rescue; pity at contact, or tenderness, into a languid and relaxed charm, and pity without an object (which has no name but is a kind of animism, or treating everything in nature as though it had human feelings) into creative fantasy. In sophisticated romance the characteristics peculiar to the form are less obvious, especially in tragic romance, where the theme of inevitable death works against the marvellous, and often forces it into the background. In Romeo and Juliet, for instance, the marvellous survives only in Mercutio's speech on Queen Mab. But this play is marked as closer to chivalric romance and fairytale than the later tragedies by the softening influences that work in the opposite direction from catharsis, draining off the irony, so to speak, from the main characters. 
In high mimetic tragedy pity and fear become, respectively, favorable and adverse moral judgement, which are relevant to tragedy but not central to it. We pity Desdemona and fear Iago, but the central tragic figure is Othello, and our feelings about him are mixed. The particular thing called tragedy that happens to the tragic hero does not depend on his moral status. If it is causally related to something he has done, as it generally is, the tragedy is in the inevitability of the consequences of the act, not in its moral significance as an act. Hence the paradox that in tragedy pity and fear are raised and cast out. Aristotle's hamartia or "flaw," therefore, is not necessarily wrongdoing, much less moral weakness: it may be simply a matter of being a strong character in an exposed position, like Cordelia. The exposed position is usually the place of leadership, in which a character is exceptional and isolated at the same time, giving us that curious blend of the inevitable and the incongruous which is peculiar to tragedy. The principle of the hamartia of leadership can be more clearly seen in naive high mimetic tragedy, as we get it in The Mirror for Magistrates and similar collections of tales based on the theme of the wheel of fortune. 
In low mimetic tragedy, pity and fear are neither purged nor absorbed into pleasures, but are communicated externally, as sensations. In fact the word "sensational" could have a more useful meaning in criticism if it were not merely an adverse value-judgement. The best word for low mimetic or domestic tragedy is, perhaps, pathos, and pathos has a close relation to the sensational reflex of tears. Pathos presents its hero as isolated by a weakness which appeals to our sympathy because it is on our own level of experience. I speak of a hero, but the central figure of pathos is often a woman or a child (or both, as in the death-scenes of Little Eva and Little Nell), and we have a whole procession of pathetic female sacrifices in English low mimetic fiction from Clarissa Harlowe to Hardy's Tess and James's Daisy Miller. We notice that while tragedy may massacre a whole cast, pathos is usually concentrated on a single character, partly because low mimetic society is more strongly individualized. 
Again, in contrast to high mimetic tragedy, pathos is increased by the inarticulateness of the victim. The death of an animal is usually pathetic, and so is the catastrophe of defective intelligence that is frequent in modern American literature. Wordsworth, who as a low mimetic artist was one of our great masters of pathos, makes his sailor's mother speak in a flat, dumpy, absurdly inadequate style about her efforts to salvage her son's clothes and "other property"— or did before bad criticism made him spoil his poem. Pathos is a queer ghoulish emotion, and some failure of expression, real or simulated, seems to be peculiar to it. It will always leave a fluently plangent funeral elegy to go and batten on something like Swift's memoir of Stella. Highly articulate pathos is apt to become a factitious appeal to self-pity, or tear-jerking. The exploiting of fear in the low mimetic is also sensational, and is a kind of pathos in reverse. The terrible figure in this tradition, exemplified by Heathcliff, Simon Legree, and the villains of Dickens, is normally a ruthless figure strongly contrasted with some kind of delicate virtue, generally a helpless victim in his power. 
The root idea of pathos is the exclusion of an individual on our own level from a social group to which he is trying to belong. Hence the central tradition of sophisticated pathos is the study of the isolated mind, the story of how someone recognizably like ourselves is. broken by a conflict between the inner and outer world, between imaginative reality and the sort of reality which is established by a social consensus. Such tragedy may be concerned, as it often is in Balzac, with a mania or obsession about rising in the world, this being the central low mimetic counterpart of the fiction of the fall of the leader. Or it may deal with the conflict of inner and outer life, as in Madame Bovary and Lord Jim, or with the impact of inflexible morality on experience, as in Melville's Pierre and Ibsen's Brand.
 The type of character involved here we may call by the Greek word "alazon", which means impostor, someone who pretends or tries to be something more than he is. The most popular types of alazon are the miles gloriosus and the learned crank or obsessed philosopher. We are most familiar with such characters in comedy, where they are looked at from the outside, so that we see only the social mask. But the alazon may be one aspect of the tragic hero as well: the touch of miles gloriosus in Tamburlaine, even in Othello, is unmistakable, as is the touch of the obsessed philosopher in Faust and Hamlet. It is very difficult to study a case of obsession, or even hypocrisy, from the inside, in a dramatic medium: even Tartuffe, as far as his dramatic function is concerned, is a study of parasitism rather than hypocrisy. The analysis of obsession belongs more naturally to prose fiction or to a semi-dramatic medium like the Browning monologue. For all the differences in technique and attitude, Conrad's Lord Jim is a lineal descendant of the miles gloriosus, of the same family as Shaw's Sergius or Synge's playboy, who are parallel types in a dramatic and comic setting. It is, of course, quite possible to take the alazon at his own valuation: this is done for instance by the creators of the inscrutable gloomy heroes in Gothic thrillers, with their wild or piercing eyes and their dark hints of interesting sins. The result as a rule is not tragedy so much as the kind of melodrama which may be defined as comedy without humor. When it rises out of this, we have a study of obsession presented in terms of fear instead of pity: that is, the obsession takes the form of an unconditioned will that drives its victim beyond the normal limits of humanity. One of the clearest examples is Heathcliff, who plunges through death itself into vampirism; but there are many others, ranging from Conrad's Kurtz to the mad scientists of popular pulp fiction.



THE MYTHOS OF AUTUMN: TRAGEDY 

Thanks as usual to Aristotle, the theory of tragedy is in considerably better shape than the other three mythoi, and we can deal with it more briefly, as the ground is more familiar. Without tragedy, all literary fictions might be plausibly explained as expressions of emotional attachments, whether of wish-fulfilment or of repugnance: the tragic fiction guarantees, so to speak, a disinterested quality in literary experience. It is largely through the tragedies of Greek culture that the sense of the authentic natural basis of human character comes into literature. In romance the characters are still largely dream-characters; in satire they tend to be caricatures; in comedy their actions are twisted to fit the demands of a happy ending. In full tragedy the main characters are emancipated from dream, an emancipation which is at the same time a restriction, because the order of nature is present. However thickly strewn a tragedy may be with ghosts, portents, witches, or oracles, we know that the tragic hero cannot simply rub a lamp and summon a genie to get him out of his trouble. Like comedy, tragedy is best and most easily studied in drama, but it is not confined to drama, nor to actions that end in disaster. Plays that are usually called or classified with tragedies end in serenity, like Cymbeline, or even joy, like Alcestis or Racine's Esther, or in an ambiguous mood that is hard to define, like Philoctetes. On the other hand, while a predominantly sombre mood forms part of the unity of the tragic structure, concentrating on mood does not intensify the tragic effect: if it did, Titus Andronicus might well be the most powerful of Shakespeare's tragedies. 
The source of tragic effect must be sought, as Aristotle pointed out, in the tragic mythos or plot-structure. It is a commonplace of criticism that comedy tends to deal with characters in a social group, whereas tragedy is more concentrated on a single individual. We have given reasons in the first essay for thinking that the typical tragic hero is somewhere between the divine and the "all too human." This must be true even of dying gods: Prometheus, being a god, cannot die, but he suffers for his sympathy with the "dying ones" or "mortals" (brotoi), and even suffering has something subdivine about it. The tragic hero is very great as compared with us, but there is something else, something on the side of him opposite the audience, compared to which he is small. This something else may be called God, gods, fate, accident, fortune, necessity, circumstance, or any combination of these, but whatever it is the tragic hero is our mediator with it. 
The tragic hero is typically on top of the wheel of fortune, halfway between human society on the ground and the something greater in the sky. Prometheus, Adam, and Christ hang between heavens and earth, between a world of paradisal freedom and a world of bondage. Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning: Milton's Samson destroys the Philistine temple with himself, and Hamlet nearly exterminates the Danish court in his own fall. Something of Nietzsche's mountain-top air of transvaluation clings to the tragic hero: his thoughts are not ours any more than his deeds, even if, like Faustus, he is dragged off to hell for having them. Whatever eloquence or affability he may have, an inscrutable reserve lies behind it. Even sinister heroes—Tamburlaine, Macbeth, Creon—retain this reserve, and we are reminded that men will die loyally for a wicked or cruel man, but not for an amiable backslapper. Those who attract most devotion from others are those who are best able to suggest in their manner that they have no need of it, and from the urbanity of Hamlet to the sullen ferocity of Ajax, tragic heroes are wrapped in the mystery of their communion with that something beyond which we can see only through them, and which is the source of their strength and their fate alike. In the phrase which so fascinated Yeats, the tragic hero leaves his servants to do his "living" for him, and the center of tragedy is in the hero's isolation, not in a villain's betrayal, even when the villain is, as he often is, a part of the hero himself. 
As for the something beyond, its names are variable but the form in which it manifests itself is fairly constant. Whether the context is Greek, Christian, or undefined, tragedy seems to lead up to an epiphany of law, of that which is and must be. It can hardly be an accident that the two great developments of tragic drama, in classical fifth-century Hellas and in seventeenth-century Europe, were contemporary with the rise of Ionian and of Renaissance science. In such a world-view nature is seen as an impersonal process which human law imitates as best it can, and this direct relation of humanity and natural law is in the foreground. The sense in Greek tragedy that fate is stronger than the gods really implies that the gods exist primarily to ratify the order of nature, and that if any personality, even a divine one, possesses a genuine power of veto over law, it is most unlikely that he will want to exercise it. In Christianity much the same is true of the personality of Christ in relation to the inscrutable decrees of the Father. Similarly the tragic process in Shakespeare is natural in the sense that it simply happens, whatever its cause, explanation, or relationships. Characters may grope about for conceptions of gods that kill us for their sport, or for a divinity that shapes our ends, but the action of tragedy will not abide our questions, a fact often transferred to the personality of Shakespeare. 
In its most elementary form, the vision of law (dike) operates as lex talionis or revenge. The hero provokes enmity, or inherits a situation of enmity, and the return of the avenger constitutes the catastrophe. The revenge-tragedy is a simple tragic structure, and like most simple structures can be a very powerful one, often retained as a central theme even in the most complex tragedies. Here the original act provoking the revenge sets up an antithetical or counterbalancing movement, and the completion of the movement resolves the tragedy. This happens so often that we may almost characterize the total mythos of tragedy as binary, in contrast to the three-part saturnalia movement of comedy. 
We notice however the frequency of the device of making the revenge come from another world, through gods or ghosts or oracles. This device expands the conceptions of both nature and law beyond the limits of the obvious and tangible. It does not thereby transcend those conceptions, as it is still natural law that is manifested by the tragic action. Here we see the tragic hero as disturbing a balance in nature, nature being conceived as an order stretching over the two kingdoms of the visible and the invisible, a balance which sooner or later must right itself. The righting of the balance is what the Greeks called nemesis: again, the agent or instrument of nemesis may be human vengeance, ghostly vengeance, divine vengeance, divine justice, accident, fate or the logic of events, but the essential thing is that nemesis happens, and happens impersonally, unaffected, as Oedipus Tyrannus illustrates, by the moral quality of human motivation involved. In the Oresteia we are led from a series of revenge-movements into a final vision of natural law, a universal compact in which moral law is included and which the gods, in the person of the goddess of wisdom, endorse. Here nemesis, like its counterpart the Law (Torah) in Judaeo-Christianity, is not abolished but fulfilled: it is developed from a mechanical or arbitrary sense of restored order, represented by the Furies, to the rational sense of it expounded by Athena. The appearance of Athena does not turn the Oresteia into a comedy, but clarifies its tragic vision. 
There are two reductive formulas which have often been used to explain tragedy. Neither is quite good enough, but each is almost good enough, and as they are contradictory, they must represent extreme or limiting views of tragedy. One of these is the theory that all tragedy exhibits the omnipotence of an external fate. And, of course, the overwhelming majority of tragedies do leave us with a sense of the supremacy of impersonal power and of the limitation of human effort. But the fatalistic reduction of tragedy confuses the tragic condition with the tragic process: fate, in a tragedy, normally becomes external to the hero only after the tragic process has been set going. The Greek ananke or moira is in its normal, or pre-tragic, form the internal balancing condition of life. It appears as external or antithetical necessity only after it has been violated as a condition of life, just as justice is the internal condition of an honest man, but the external antagonist of the criminal. Homer uses a profoundly significant phrase for the theory of tragedy when he has Zeus speak of Aegisthus as going hyper moiron, beyond fate. 
The fatalistic reduction of tragedy does not distinguish tragedy from irony, and it is again significant that we speak of the irony of fate rather than of its tragedy. Irony does not need an exceptional central figure: as a rule, the dingier the hero the sharper the irony, when irony alone is aimed at. It is the admixture of heroism that gives tragedy its characteristic splendor and exhilaration. The tragic hero has normally had an extraordinary, often a nearly divine, destiny almost within his grasp, and the glory of that original vision never quite fades out of tragedy. The rhetoric of tragedy requires the noblest diction that the greatest poets can produce, and while catastrophe is the normal end of tragedy, this is balanced by an equally significant original greatness, a paradise lost. 
The other reductive theory of tragedy is that the act which sets the tragic process going must be primarily a violation of moral law, whether human or natural; in short, that Aristotle's hamartia or "flaw" must have an essential connection with sin or wrongdoing. Again it is true that the great majority of tragic heroes do possess hybris, a proud, passionate, obsessed or soaring mind which brings about a morally intelligible downfall. Such hybris is the normal precipitating agent of catastrophe, just as in comedy the cause of the happy ending is usually some act of humility, represented by a slave or by a heroine meanly disguised. In Aristotle the hamartia of the tragic hero is associated with Aristotle's ethical conception of proairesis, or free choice of an end, and Aristotle certainly does tend to think of tragedy as morally, almost physically, intelligible. It has already been suggested, however, that the conception of catharsis, which is central to Aristotle's view of tragedy, is inconsistent with moral reductions of it. Pity and terror are moral feelings, and they are relevant but not attached to the tragic situation. Shakespeare is particularly fond of planting moral lightning-rods on both sides of his heroes to deflect the pity and terror: we have mentioned Othello flanked by Iago and Desdemona, but Hamlet is flanked by Claudius and Ophelia, King Lear by his wicked daughters and Cordelia, and even Macbeth by Lady Macbeth and Duncan. In all these tragedies there is a sense of some far-reaching mystery of which this morally intelligible process is only a part. The hero's act has thrown a switch in a larger machine than his own life, or even his own society. All theories of tragedy as morally explicable sooner or later run into the question: is an innocent sufferer in tragedy (i.e., poetically innocent), Iphigenia, Cordelia, Socrates in Plato's Apology, Christ in the Passion, not a tragic figure? It is not very convincing to try to provide crucial moral flaws for such characters. Cordelia shows a high spirit, perhaps a touch of wilfulness, in refusing to flatter her father, and Cordelia gets hanged. Joan of Arc in Schiller has a moment of tenderness for an English soldier, and Joan is burned alive, or would have been if Schiller had not decided to sacrifice the facts to save the face of his moral theory. Here we are getting away from tragedy, and close to a kind of insane cautionary tale, like Mrs. Pipchin's little boy who was gored to death by a bull for asking inconvenient questions. Tragedy, in short, seems to elude the antithesis of moral responsibility and arbitrary fate, just as it eludes the antithesis of good and evil. 
In the third book of Paradise Lost, Milton represents God as arguing that he made man and woman "Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall." God knew that Adam and Eve would fall, but did not compel them to do so, and on that basis he disclaims legal responsibility. This argument is so bad that Milton, if he was trying to escape refutation, did well to ascribe it to God. Thought and act cannot be so separated: if God had foreknowledge he must have known in the instant of creating Adam and Eve that he was creating beings who would fall. Yet the passage is a most haunting and suggestive one nonetheless. For Paradise Lost is not simply an attempt to write one more tragedy, but to expound what Milton believed to be the archetypal myth of tragedy. Hence the passage is another example of existential projection: the real basis of the relation of Milton's God to Adam and Eve is the relation of the tragic poet to his hero. The tragic poet knowsthat his hero will be in a tragic situation, but he exerts all his power to avoid the sense of having manipulated that situation for his own purposes. He exhibits his hero to us as God exhibits Adam to the angels. If the hero was not sufficient to have stood, the mode is purely ironic; if he was not free to fall, the mode is purely romantic, the story of an invincible hero who will conquer all his antagonists as long as the story is about him. Now most theories of tragedy take one great tragedy as their norm: thus Aristotle's theory is largely founded on Oedipus Tyrannus, and Hegel's on Antigone. In seeing the archetypal human tragedy in the story of Adam and Eve and their Fall from Grace, Milton was, of course, in agreement with the whole Judaeo-Christian cultural tradition, and perhaps arguments drawn from the story of Adam and Eve may have better luck in literary criticism than in subjects compelled to assume Adam's and Eve's real existence, either as fact or as a merely legal fiction. Chaucer's monk, who clearly understood what he was doing, began with Lucifer; and we may be well advised to follow his example. 
Adam and Eve, then, a rein a heroic human situation: on top of the wheel of fortune, with the destiny of the gods almost within their reach. Forfeiting that destiny in a way which suggests moral responsibility to some and a conspiracy of fate to others. What they have done is to exchange a fortune of unlimited freedom for the fate involved in the consequences of the act of exchange, just as, for one who deliberately jumps off a precipice, the law of gravitation acts as fate for the brief remainder of their life. The exchange is presented by Milton as itself a free act or proairesis, a use of freedom to lose freedom. And just as comedy often sets up an arbitrary law and then organizes the action to break or evade it, so tragedy presents the reverse theme of narrowing a comparatively free life into a process of causation. This happens to Macbeth when he accepts the logic of usurpation, to Hamlet when he accepts the logic of revenge, to King Lear when he accepts the logic of abdication. The discovery or anagnorisis which comes at the end of the tragic plot is not simply the knowledge by the hero of what has happened to him —Oedipus Tyrannus, despite its reputation as a typical tragedy, is rather a special case in that regard—but the recognition of the determined shape of the life he has created for himself, with an implicit comparison with the uncreated potential life he has forsaken. The line of Milton dealing with the fall of the devils, "O how unlike the place from whence they fell!", referring as it does both to Virgil's quantum mutatus ab illo and Isaiah's "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the morning," combines the Classical and the Judaeo-Christian archetypes of tragedy—for Satan, of course, possessed an original glory. In Milton the complement to the vision of Adam on top of the wheel of fortune and falling into the world of the wheel is Jesus Christ standing on the pinnacle of the temple, urged by Satan to fall, and remaining motionless. As soon as Adam and Eve fall, they enters their own created life, which is also the order of nature as we know it. The tragedy of Adam and Eve, therefore, resolves, like all other tragedies, in the manifestation of natural law. They enter a world in which existence is itself tragic, not existence modified by an act, deliberate or unconscious. Merely to exist is to disturb the balance of nature. Every natural individual is a Hegelian thesis, and implies a reaction: every new birth provokes the return of an avenging death. This fact, in itself ironic and now called Angst, becomes tragic when a sense of a lost and originally higher destiny is added to it. Aristotle's hamartia, then, is a condition of being, not a cause of becoming: the reason why Milton ascribes his dubious argument to God is that he is so anxious to remove God from a predetermined causal sequence. On one side of the tragic hero is an opportunity for freedom, on the other the inevitable consequence of losing that freedom. These two sides of Adam's and Eve's situation are represented in Milton by the speeches of Raphael and Michael respectively. Even with an innocent hero or martyr the same situation arises: in the Passion story it occurs in Christ's prayer in Gethsemane. Tragedy seems to move up to an Augenblick or crucial moment from which point the road to what might have been and the road to what will be can be simultaneously seen. Seen by the audience, that is: it cannot be seen by the hero if he is in a state of hybris, for in that case the crucial moment is for him a moment of dizziness, when the wheel of fortune begins its inevitable cyclical movement downward. 
In Adam's and Eve's situation there is a feeling, which in Christian tradition can be traced back at least to St. Augustine, that time begins with the fall from grace; that the fall from liberty into the natural cycle also started the movement of time as we know it. In other tragedies too we can trace the feeling that nemesis is deeply involved with the movement of time, whether as the missing of a tide in the affairs of men, as a recognition that the time is out of joint, as a sense that time is the devourer of life, the mouth of hell at the previous moment, when the potential passes forever into the actual, or, in its ultimate horror, Macbeth's sense of it as simply one clock-tick after another. In comedy time plays a redeeming role: it uncovers and brings to light what is essential to the happy ending.
The subtitle of Greene's Pandosto, the source of The Winter's Tale, is "The Triumph of Time," and it well describes the nature of Shakespeare's action, where time is introduced as a chorus. But in tragedy the cognitio is normally the recognition of the inevitability of a causal sequence in time, and the forebodings and ironic anticipations surrounding it are based on a sense of cyclical return. In irony, as distinct from tragedy, the wheel of time completely encloses the action, and there is no sense of an original contact with a relatively timeless world. In the Bible the tragic fall of Adam and Eve is followed by its historical repetition, the fall of Israel into Egyptian bondage, which is, so to speak, its ironic confirmation. Panta rhei, everything returns. As long as the Geoffrey version of British history (which traced the British Celts to Trojan ancestors) was accepted, the fall of Troy was the corresponding event in the history of Britain, and, as the fall of Troy began with an idolatrous misapplication of an apple, there were even symbolic parallels. Shakespeare's most ironic play, Troilus and Cressida, presents in Ulysses (Odysseus!) the voice of worldly wisdom, expounding with great eloquence the two primary categories of the perspective of tragic irony in the fallen world, time and the hierarchic chain of being. The extraordinary treatment of the tragic vision of time by Nietzsche's Zarathustra, in which the heroic acceptance of cyclical return becomes a glumly cheerful acceptance of a cosmology of identical recurrence, marks the influence of an age of irony. 
Anyone accustomed to think archetypally of literature will recognize in tragedy a mimesis of sacrifice. Tragedy is a paradoxical combination of a fearful sense of Tightness (the hero must fall) and a pitying sense of wrongness (it is too bad that he falls). There is a similar paradox in the two elements of sacrifice. One of these is communion, the dividing of a heroic or divine body among a group which brings them into unity with, and as, that body. The other is propitiation, the sense that in spite of the communion the body really belongs to another, a greater, and a potentially wrathful power. The ritual analogies to tragedy are more obvious than the psychological ones, for it is irony, not tragedy, that represents the nightmare or anxiety-dream. But, just as the literary critic finds Freud most suggestive for the theory of comedy, and Jung for the theory of romance, so for the theory of tragedy one naturally looks to the psychology of the will to power, as expounded in Adler and Nietzsche. Here one finds a "Dionysiac" aggressive will, intoxicated by dreams of its own omnipotence, impinging upon an "ApolIonian" sense of external and immovable order. As a mimesis of ritual, the tragic hero is not really killed or eaten, but the corresponding thing in art still takes place, a vision of death which draws the survivors into a new unity. As a mimesis of dream, the inscrutable tragic hero, like the proud and silent swan, becomes articulate at the point of death, and the audience, like the poet in Kubla Khan, revives his song within itself. With his fall, a greater world beyond which his gigantic spirit had blocked out becomes for an instant visible, but there is also a sense of the mystery and remoteness of that world. 
If we are right in our suggestion that romance, tragedy, irony and comedy are all episodes in a total quest-myth, we can see how it is that comedy can contain a potential tragedy within itself. In myth, the hero is a god, and hence he does not die, but dies and rises again. The ritual pattern behind the catharsis of comedy is the resurrection that follows the death, the epiphany or manifestation of the risen hero. In Aristophanes the hero, who often goes through a point of ritual death, is treated as a risen god, hailed as a new Zeus, or given the quasi-divine honors of the Olympic victor. In New Comedy the new human body is both a hero and a social group. The Aeschylean trilogy proceeds to the comic satyr-play, which is said to have affinities with spring festivals. Christianity, too, sees tragedy as an episode in the divine comedy, the larger scheme of redemption and resurrection. The sense of tragedy as a prelude to comedy seems almost inseparable from anything explicitly Christian. The serenity of the final double chorus in the St. Matthew Passion would hardly be attainable if composer and audience did not know that there was more to the story. Nor would the death of Samson lead to "calm of mind, all passion spent," if Samson were not a prototype of the rising Christ, associated at the appropriate moment with the phoenix. 
This is an example of the way in which myths explain the structural principles behind familiar literary facts, in this case the fact that to make a sombre action end happily is easy enough, and to reverse the procedure almost impossible. (Of course we have a natural dislike of seeing pleasant situations turn out disastrously, but if a poet is working on a solid structural basis, our natural likes and dislikes have nothing to do with the matter.) Even Shakespeare, who can do anything, never does quite this. The action of King Lear, which seems heading for some kind of serenity, is suddenly wrenched into agony by the hanging of Cordelia, providing a conclusion which the stage refused to act for over a century, but none of Shakespeare's tragedies impresses us as a comedy gone wrong: Romeo and Juliet has a suggestion of such a structure, but it is only a suggestion. Hence while of course a tragedy may contain a comic action, it contains it only episodically as a subordinate contrast or underplot. 
The characterization of tragedy is very like that of comedy in reverse. The source of nemesis, whatever it is, is an eiron, and may appear in a great variety of agents, from wrathful gods to hypocritical villains. In comedy we noticed three main types of eiron characters: a benevolent withdrawing and returning figure, the tricky slave or vice, and the hero and heroine. We have the tragic counterpart to the withdrawn eiron in the god who decrees the tragic action, like Athena in Ajax or Aphrodite in Hippolytus; a Christian example is God the Father in Paradise Lost. He may also be a ghost, like Hamlet's father; or it may not be a person at all but simply an invisible force known only by its effects, like the death that quietly seizes on Tamburlaine when the time has come for him to die. Often, as in the revenge-tragedy, it is an event previous to the action of which the tragedy itself is the consequence. 
A tragic counterpart to the vice or tricky slave may be discerned in the soothsayer or prophet who foresees the inevitable end, or more of it than the hero does, like Teiresias. A closer example is the Machiavellian villain of Elizabethan drama, who, like the vice in comedy, is a convenient catalyzer of the action because he requires the minimum of motivation, being a self-starting principle of malevolence. Like the comic vice, too, he is something of an architectus or projection of the author's will, in this case for a tragic conclusion. " I limned this night-piece," says Webster's Lodovico, "and it was my best." Iago dominates the action of Othello almost to the point of being a tragic counterpart to the black king or evil magician of chivalric romance, and to this archetype's modern-day descendant, the dark overlord of high fantasy and space opera. The affinities of the Machiavellian villain with the diabolical are naturally close, and he may be an actual devil like Mephistopheles, but the sense of awfulness belonging to an agent of catastrophe can also make him something more like the high priest of a sacrifice. There is a touch of this in Webster's Bosola. King Lear has a Machiavellian villain in Edmund, and Edmund is contrasted with Edgar. Edgar, with his bewildering variety of disguises, his appearance to blind or mad people in different roles, and his tendency to appear on the third sound of the trumpet and to come pat like the catastrophe of the old comedy, seems to be an experiment in a new type, a kind of tragic "virtue," if I may coin this word by analogy, a counterpart in the order of nature to a guardian angel or similar attendant in chivalric romance,
high fantasy, and space opera. 
The tragic hero usually belongs of course to the alazon group, an impostor in the sense that he is self-deceived or made dizzy by hybris. In many tragedies he begins as a semi-divine figure, at least in his own eyes, and then an inexorable dialectic sets to work which separates the divine pretence from the human actuality. "They told me I was everything," says Lear: " 'tis a lie; I am not agueproof." The tragic hero is usually vested with supreme authority, but is often in the more ambiguous position of a tyrannos whose rule depends on his own abilities, rather than a purely hereditary or de jure monarch (basileus) like Duncan. The latter is more directly a symbol of the original vision or birthright, and is often a somewhat pathetic victim, like Richard II, or even Agamemnon. Parental figures in tragedy have the same ambivalence that they have in all other forms. 
We found in comedy that the term bomolochos or buffoon need not be restricted to farce, but could be extended to cover comic characters who are primarily entertainers, with the function of increasing or focussing the comic mood. The corresponding contrasting type in tragedy is the suppliant, the character, often female, who presents a picture of unmitigated helplessness and destitution. Such a figure is pathetic, and pathos, though it seems a gentler and more relaxed mood than tragedy, is even more terrifying. Its basis is the exclusion of an individual from a group, hence it attacks the deepest fear in ourselves that we possess—a fear much deeper than the relatively cosy and sociable bogey of hell. In the figure of the suppliant pity and terror are brought to the highest possible pitch of intensity, and the awful consequences of rejecting the suppliant for all concerned is a central theme of Greek tragedy. Suppliant figures are often women threatened with death or rape, or children, like Prince Arthur in King John. The fragility of Shakespeare's Ophelia marks an affinity with the suppliant type. Often, too, the suppliant is in the structurally tragic position of having lost a place of greatness: this is the position of Adam and Eve in the tenth book of Paradise Lost, of the Trojan women after the fall of Troy, of Oedipus in the Colonus play, and so on. A subordinate figure who plays the role of focussing the tragic mood is the messenger who regularly announces the catastrophe in Greek tragedy. In the final scene of comedy, when the author is usually trying to get all his characters on the stage at once, we often notice the introduction of a new character, generally a messenger bearing some missing piece of the cognitio, such as Jacques de Bois in As You Like It or the gentle astringer in All's Well, who represents the comic counterpart. 
Finally, a tragic counterpart of the comic refuser of festivity may be discerned in a tragic type of plain dealer who may be simply the faithful friend of the hero, like Horatio in Hamlet, but is often an outspoken critic of the tragic action, like Kent in King Lear or Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra. Such a character is in the position of refusing, or at any rate resisting, the tragic movement toward catastrophe. Abdiel's role in the tragedy of Satan in Paradise Lost is similar. The familiar figures of Cassandra and Teiresias combine this role with that of the soothsayer. Such figures, when they occur in a tragedy without a chorus, are often called chorus characters, as they illustrate one of the essential functions of the tragic chorus. In comedy a society forms around the hero: in tragedy the chorus, however faithful, usually represents the society from which the hero is gradually isolated. Hence what it expresses is a social norm against which the hero's hybris may be measured. The chorus is not the voice of the hero's conscience by any means, but very seldom does it encourage him in his hybris or prompt him to disastrous action. The chorus or chorus character is, so to speak, the embryonic germ of comedy in tragedy, just as the refuser of festivity, the melancholy Jacques or Alceste, is a tragic germ in comedy. 
In comedy the erotic and social affinities of the hero are combined and unified in the final scene; tragedy usually makes love and the social structure irreconcilable and contending forces, a conflict which reduces love to passion and social activity to a forbidding and imperative duty. Comedy is much concerned with integrating the family and adjusting the family to society as a whole; tragedy is much concerned with breaking up the family and opposing it to the rest of society. This gives us the tragic archetype of Antigone, of which the conflict of love and honor in Classical French drama, of Neigung and Pflicht in Schiller, of passion and authority in the Jacobeans, are all moralized simplifications. Again, just as the heroine of comedy often ties together the action, so it is obvious that the central female figure of a tragic action will often polarize the tragic conflict. Eve, Helen, Gertrude, and Emily in the Knight's Tale are some ready instances: the structural role of Briseis in the Iliad is similar. Comedy works out the proper relations of its characters and prevents adopted heroes from marrying their biological sisters or mothers (ditto adopted heroines from marrying their biological fathers or brothers); tragedy presents the disaster of Oedipus or the incest of Siegmund. There is a great deal in tragedy about pride of race and birthright, but its general tendency is to isolate a ruling or noble family from the rest of society. 

The phases of tragedy move from the heroic to the ironic, the first three corresponding to the first three phases of romance, the last three to the last three of irony. The first phase of tragedy is the one in which the central character is given the greatest possible dignity in contrast to the other characters, so that we get the perspective of a stag pulled down by a pack of wolves. The sources of dignity are courage and innocence, and in this phase the hero or heroine usually is innocent. This phase corresponds to the myth of the birth of the hero in romance, a theme which is occasionally incorporated into a tragic structure, as in Racine's Athalie. But owing to the unusual difficulty of making an interesting dramatic character out of an infant, the central and typical figure of this phase is the calumniated woman, often a mother whose conjugal fidelity, and/or the legitimacy of whose child, is suspected. A whole series of tragedies based on a Griselda figure belong here, stretching from the Senecan Octavia to Hardy's Tess, and including the tragedy of Hermione in The Winter's Tale. If we are to read Alcestis as a tragedy, we have to see it as a tragedy of this phase in which Alcestis is violated by Death and then has her fidelity vindicated by being restored to life. Cymbeline belongs here too: in this play the theme of the birth of the hero appears offstage, for Cymbeline was the king of Britain at the time of the birth of Christ, and the halcyon peace in which the play concludes has a suppressed reference to this. 
An even clearer example, and certainly one of the greatest in English literature, is The Duchess of Malfi. The Duchess has the innocence of abundant life in a sick and melancholy society, where the fact that she has "youth and a little beauty" is precisely why she is hated. She reminds us too that one of the essential character istics of innocence in the martyr is an unwillingness to die. When Bosola comes to murder her he makes elaborate attempts to put her half in love with easeful death and to suggest that death is really a deliverance. The attempt is motivated by a grimly controlled pity, and is roughly the equivalent of the vinegar sponge in the Passion. When the Duchess, her back to the wall, says " I am the Duchess of Malfi still," "still" having its full weight of "always," we understand how it is that even after her death her invisible presence continues to be the most vital character in the play. The White Devil is an ironic parody-treatment of the same phase. 
The second phase corresponds to the youth of the storybook hero, and is in one way or another the tragedy of innocence in the sense of inexperience, usually involving young people. It may be simply the tragedy of a youthful life cut off, as in the stories of Iphigeneia and Jephthah's daughter, of Romeo and Juliet, or, in a more complex situation, in the bewildered mixture of idealism and priggishness that brings Hippolytus to disaster. The simplicity of Shaw's Joan and her lack of worldly wisdom place her here also. For us however the phase is dominated by the archetypal tragedy of the green and golden world, the loss of the innocence of Adam and Eve, who, no matter how heavy a doctrinal load they have to carry, will always remain dramatically in the position of children baffled by their first contact with an adult situation. In many tragedies of this type the central character survives, so that the action closes with some adjustment to a new and more mature experience. "Henceforth I learn that to obey is best," says Adam, as he and Eve go hand in hand out to the world before them. A less clear cut but similar resolution occurs when Philoctetes, whose serpent wound reminds us a little of Adam, is taken off his island to enter the Trojan war. Ibsen's Little Eyolf is a tragedy of this phase, and with the same continuing conclusion, in which it is the older characters who are educated through the death of a child. 
The third phase, corresponding to the central quest-theme of chivalric romance, high fantasy, and space opera, is tragedy in which a strong emphasis is thrown on the success or completeness of the hero's achievement. The Passion belongs here, as do all tragedies in which the hero is in any way related to or a prototype of Christ, like Samson Agonistes. The paradox of victory within tragedy may be expressed by a double perspective in the action. Samson is a buffoon of a Philistine carnival and simultaneously a tragic hero to the Israelites, but the tragedy ends in triumph and the carnival in catastrophe. Much the same is true of the mocked Christ in the Passion. But just as the second phase often ends in anticipation of greater maturity, so this one is often a sequel to a previous tragic or heroic action, and comes at the end of a heroic life. One of the greatest dramatic examples is Oedipus at Colonus, where we find the usual binary form of a tragedy conditioned by a previous tragic act, ending this time not in a second disaster, but in a full rich serenity that goes far beyond a mere resignation to Fate. In narrative literature we may cite Beowulf's last fight with the dragon, the pendant to his Grendel quest. Shakespeare's Henry V is a successfully completed romantic quest made tragic by its implicit context: everybody knows that King Henry died almost immediately and that sixty years of unbroken disaster followed for England—at least, if anyone in Shakespeare's audience did not know that, his ignorance was certainly no fault of Shakespeare's. 
The fourth phase is the typical fall of the hero through hybris and hamartia that we have already discussed. In this phase we cross the boundary line from innocence to experience, which is also the direction in which the hero falls. 
In the fifth phase the ironic element increases, the heroic decreases, and the characters look further away and in a smaller perspective. Timon of Athens impresses us as more ironic and less heroic than the better known tragedies, not simply because Timon is a more middle-class hero who has to buy what authority he has, but because the feeling that Timon's suicide has somehow failed to make a fully heroic point is very strong. Timon is oddly isolated from the final action, in which the breach between Alcibiades and the Athenians closes up over his head, in striking contrast with the conclusions of most of the other tragedies, where nobody is allowed to steal the show from the central character. 
The ironic perspective in tragedy is attained by putting the characters in a state of lower freedom than the audience. For a Christian audience an Old Testament or pagan setting is ironic in this sense, as it shows its characters moving according to the conditions of a law, whether Jewish or natural, from which the audience has been, at least theoretically, redeemed. Samson Agonistes, though unique in English literature, presents a combination of Classical form and Hebrew subject-matter that the greatest contemporary tragedian, Racine, also reached at the end of his life in Athalie and Esther. Similarly the epilogue to Chaucer's Troilus puts a Courtly Love tragedy into its historical relation to "payens corsed olde rites." The events in Geoffrey of Monmouth's British history are supposed to be contemporary with those of the Old Testament, and the sense of life under the law is present everywhere in King Lear. The same structural principle accounts for the use of astrology and other fatalistic machinery connected with the turning wheels of fate or fortune. Romeo and Juliet are star-crossed, and Troilus loses Criseyde because every five hundred years Jupiter and Saturn meet the crescent moon in Cancer and claim another victim. The tragic action of the fifth phase presents for the most part the tragedy of lost direction and lack of knowledge, not unlike the second phase except that the context is the world of adult experience. Oedipus Tyrannus belongs here, and all tragedies and tragic episodes which suggest the existential projection of fatalism, and, like much of the Book of Job, seem to raise metaphysical or theological questions rather than social or moral ones. 
Oedipus Tyrannus, however, is already moving into the sixth phase of tragedy, a world of shock and horror in which the central images are images of sparagmos, that is, cannibalism, mutilation, and torture. The specific reaction known as shock is appropriate to a situation of cruelty or outrage. (The secondary or false shock produced by the outrage done to some emotional attachment or fixation, as in the critical reception of Jude the Obscure or Ulysses, has no status in criticism, as false shock is a disguised resistance to the autonomy of culture.) Any tragedy may have one or more shocking scenes in it, but sixth-phase tragedy shocks as a whole, in its total effect. This phase is more common as a subordinate aspect of tragedy than as its main theme, as unqualified horror or despair makes a difficult cadence. Prometheus Bound is a tragedy of this phase, though this is partly an illusion due to its isolation from the trilogy to which it belongs. In such tragedies the hero is in too great agony or humiliation to gain the privilege of a heroic pose, hence it is usually easier to make him a villainous hero, like Marlowe's Barabas, although Faustus also belongs to the same phase. Seneca is fond of this phase, and bequeathed to the Elizabethans an interest in the gruesome, an effect which usually has some connection with mutilation, as when Ferdinand offers to shake hands with the Duchess of Malfi and gives her a dead man's hand. Titus Andronicus is an experiment in Senecan sixth-phase horror which makes a great deal of mutilation, and shows also a strong interest, from the opening scene on, in the sacrificial symbolism of tragedy. At the end of this phase we reach a point of demonic epiphany, where we see or glimpse the undisplaced demonic vision, the vision of the Inferno. Its chief symbols, besides the prison and the madhouse, are the instruments of a torturing death, the cross under the sunset being the antithesis of the tower under the moon. A strong element of demonic ritual in public punishments and similar mob amusements is exploited by tragic and ironic myth. Breaking on the wheel becomes King Lear's wheel of fire; bear-baiting is an image for Gloucester and Macbeth, and for the crucified Prometheus the humiliation of exposure, the horror of being watched, is a greater misery than the pain. Derkou theama (behold the spectacle; get your staring over with ) is his bitterest cry. The inability of Milton's blind Samson to stare back is his greatest torment, and one which forces him to scream at Delilah, in one of the most terrible passages of all tragic drama, that he will tear her to pieces if she touches him.


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