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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Tragic Hero
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0705  Saturday, 24 March 2001

[1]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Mar 2001 08:34:48 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero

[2]     From:   Tim Perfect <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 Mar 2001 04:58:48 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Thu, 22 Mar 2001 11:01:20 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Mar 2001 08:34:48 -0600
Subject: 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero

Paul Doniger wrote,

" I can't think of a play,  outside perhaps _Anthony & Cleopatra_ with
two tragic heroes."

If a tragic hero is defined as one with a tragic flaw, might we see
"Romeo and Juliet," "Macbeth (and Lady Macbeth)," and perhaps even
"Trolius and Cressida" as  plays with two tragic heroes? And in a sense,
*all* the characters in a tragedy are tragic figures, since each might
have done something to avert the tragedy but fail to act because of
"some mole of nature " in him or her.

      L. Swilley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tim Perfect <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 Mar 2001 04:58:48 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero

> Is there anything like this in Shakespeare? I can't think of a play,
> outside perhaps _Anthony & Cleopatra_ with two tragic heroes.

I would say that "Titus Andronicus" presents both Titus and Lavinia as
tragic heroes (which was even more evident, I think, in Taymor's film)

Tim Perfect

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Thu, 22 Mar 2001 11:01:20 -0500
Subject: 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0691 Re: Tragic Hero

> Is there anything like this in Shakespeare? I can't think of a play,
> outside perhaps _Anthony & Cleopatra_ with two tragic heroes.
>
> Paul E. Doniger

One mistitled play is the Merchant of Venice, which was first entered in
the Stationer's Register as The Merchant of Venice or the Jew of
Venice.  I suppose it was up to Heminges and Condell to select the comic
hero over the tragic villain for the eponymous title, but the mistitling
is evidenced by the fact that most first time readers assume Shylock is
the "merchant."  As Shakespeare's eponymous heroes go, Antonio is not
developed on the level of Hamlet or Othello, while Shylock approaches
Richard III.  It is anomolous for a comedy (the genre of community, as
opposed to tragedy, the genre of the isolated individual) to be named
for the hero anyway, and, of course Marlowe's Jew play and the lost Jew
plays of the period are named for the Jew.  Although we can't attribute
the selection of a final Title to Shakespeare, it seems to me to reflect
the critique of racism/antisemitism developed in the play.  While
Richard III and Macbeth can be named "hero," Shylock can not because he
is a Jew and an "other" ("other" may be the antithesis of "hero"). The
play decenters the tragedy of Venice in the direction of the peripheral
comedy of Belmont.  The attrocity perpetrated by Lorenzo on Shylock (a
crime which Marlowe's play acknowledges as such) is rendered peripheral
and comic, but if Marlowe's audience could acknowledge the justification
of Barabas' revenge, Shakespeare's audience should have been left with
as sour an aftertaste as we are.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenix.liu.edu/~cstetner/cds.html

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