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Tragedy has always been a popular theme in stories and plays. For centuries, people have been captivated by morbidly emotional finales, rather than by happy endings. Stories with a sad outcome fascinate us much more than those, ending on a happy note. Many of the best works of literature are considered to be tragedies. Shakespeare would be a perfect example of a man who had written many delightful comedies; yet, he was more famous for his grave tragedies. People seem to be more attached to something that disturbs them and leaves them uneasy, rather than to something frivolous and amusing. Maybe, it is because tragedies can be very didactic. Maybe, by studying typical causes of tragedy, a person can prevent it from happening in his or her personal life. It is much easier to learn something from someone else s mistakes than from your own. So it is possible that people who really enjoy tragedy do not really enjoy it, but use it to prevent their future misfortunes, if there are any. Otherwise, how can someone enjoy the pain and the suffering of others? But like everything else tragedy has laws. One of the laws is Hubris.

A Rose for Emily, by William Faulkner, can easily be classified as a tragedy. It is a repulsive story about a woman, who died just as she lived: lonely. Emily Grierson was a peculiar woman, who owned a large house, which was a mystery to many people. She never had any real friends and she never had a spouse. And when she started seeing a man, Homer Barron, everybody was assured that she would marry him. But Mr. Barron was as queer as Ms. Grierson was, so their melding was very unlikely. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, She will marry him. Then we said, She will persuaded him yet, because homer himself had remarked he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elk s Club that he was not a marrying man. (Faulkner 280) Poor woman probably never even had the chance. But shortly after the two had been acquainted, Homer disappeared, and the woman became even more alienated, until she stopped coming out of her dusky house at all. At the end of the story, we are told that the disintegrating carcass of Mr. Barron was found in Emily s house in the room that had been locked for years. The rotting corpse remained in that room for quite a few years, and it is evident that Emily had contributed to Homer s death. The ending is gruesome and tragic and this tragedy is Hubris because the main character never worried about having to pay for her actions. Moreover, her act of slaying a man and concealing his deteriorating frame in one of her secret rooms, and later, confining herself from any interaction with people is highly anti-social and immoral. So A Rose for Emily clearly depicts Hubris, which is a definite law of tragedy but not the only law.

Babylon Revisited, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, familiarizes us with another law of tragedy: Nemesis. The story is about two young people, who, at first, seem to have limitless love for each other. But as they go to Europe, they start to overindulge in pursuing earthly delights, and in no time, their flourishing young family is at its demise. Unlike in A Rose for Emily, the main character of Babylon Revisited was initially happy, and later in the story has to pay for his actions while he is still alive. Because of the argument with his wife, Charlie kicks her out of the house and makes her spend the night in the cold. As a result, his wife Helen dies from pneumonia. But Charlie has to pay more than his wife s life; he looses the custody of his daughter to his sister-in-law, who ultimately becomes his Nemesis. And because Charlie s daughter is all he has left in the world, her loss makes him absolutely lonely, which turns out to be his final punishment. He would come back some day; they couldn t make him pay forever. But he wanted his child, and nothing was much good now, beside that fact. He wasn t young any more, with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself. He was absolutely sure Helen wouldn t have wanted him to be so alone. (Fitzgerald 385) From having everything one can desire, Charlie became a miserable man, having to pay the fullest price for his errors. And that is a perfect example of Nemesis, an alternate law of a typical tragedy.

Yet, another type of tragedy is Catharsis. In D. H. Lawrence s The Horse Dealer s Daughter, we meet the family on the verge of its downfall. Three brothers and a sister are sitting at the table and possibly having their last breakfast together. The family has fallen apart because when their father died, the horse business went down and they had to live in penury. Mabel, the only woman in the house, seems to be calm and well poised on the outside, but only later in the story, we find out that tremendous agony is devouring her from the inside. She was miserable for years and she no longer desires to endure the pain. That is when she tries to drown herself in the lake but fortunately or unfortunately the doctor saves her. As he brings her home and wraps her naked body in towels, she regains her consciousness and asks the doctor why he saved her. The young man is terrified, not realizing that he is madly in love with the woman he just saved. His professionalism makes him deny his strong feelings, but she keeps insisting that he loves her. You love me, she repeated, in a murmur of deep, rhapsodic assurance. You love me. (Lawrence 540) At the end of the story, the doctor does not wish to fight his feelings and emotions anymore and he accepts the truth that only a few minutes ago was a nightmare. He is ready to marry Mabel and reassures her that he wants her. The story is a clear example of Catharsis because in the beginning things are very ambiguous and shaky for Mabel and her future. Her spirit is broken and she wants to escape the horrors of her reality. But as the doctor saves her, she realizes that she is still young and life is worth living and that is how the order of her life is restored. She also realizes that she is in love and she no longer acts as a shrew. She now has someone who will take care of her, a person with whom she is deeply in love, and from a girl living in the past and rejecting the present, she matures into a woman, ready to take on a new life. That is why this type of tragedy should be classified as Catharsis.

To conclude: pieces of the same genre can come in variant forms. Tragedy is worth studying not only because of its popularity and intensity but also because it did and will always exist in the lives of ordinary people like ourselves. While reading tragic stories and analyzing different forms of tragedy, we should always parallel them with the events that take place in our lives and learn from them as much as we can. And maybe, it will make our reality less stressful and more blissful.

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