What is Shakespearean tragedy?
Shakespearean tragedy presents a superior figure—the tragic hero—who comes to ruin because of an error in judgment or a weakness in character—a tragicflaw. One or more antagonists, or opposing characters, also work against the tragic hero, and the action builds to a catastrophe, a disastrous end involving deaths.
• The play is written in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter, in which the normal line has five stressedsyllables, each preceded by an unstressed syllable.
• Characters often reveal their private thoughts through soliloquies and asides, which other characters cannot hear.
• Enjoyment of the play’s action is sometimes enhanced through the use of foreshadowing—hints about what may happen later—and dramatic irony—the contrast created when the audience knows more about a situation than a character knows.