ABSTRACT

Witnessing a series of events that, it seems, must end in the destruction of outstanding individuals may well cause us to feel pity, fear, and sadness. Seeing this kind of thing may also be an occasion for us to feel that we learn something about life, that we gain or are confirmed in some kind of wisdom. And if this series of events also includes scenes of ridicule, slapstick, and wordplay, it may provoke laughter. One of Shakespeare’s aims in crafting his tragedies as he does is to provide his audiences with an occasion to have all of these experiences, and many feel that his tragedies are special, successful, and great because they do this. Yet some feel that these experiences come a distant second to another kind of experience, and they express disdain for the view that the function of tragedy is merely to make us feel emotion and instruct us.