4. Similar and different facts

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Shakespeare shared with Freud the insight that all events have an intimate as well as a public history. He also shared with Jung an awareness of the impersonal imaginative inheritance that has come down to us from the more remote past. And he shared with Lacan a keen sensitivity to the hidden complexities and perplexities of language (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Volume 81, April 1988).

Shakespeare’s plays have common facts that involve Elisabethan theatre characteristics:

The first point that they have in common is that tragedy must end in some tremendous catastrophe involving in Elizabethan practice the death of the principal character.

The second fact is that The catastrophe must not be the result of mere accident, but must be brought about by some essential trait in the character of the hero acting either directly or through its effect on other persons.

The hero must nevertheless have in him something which outweighs his defects and interests us in him so that we care for his fate more than for anything else in the play. The problem then is, why should a picture of the misfortunes of some one in whom we are thus interested afford us any satisfaction? No final answer has yet been found. Aristotle said that the spectacle by rousing in us pity and fear purges us of these emotions, and this remains the best explanation. Just as a great calamity sweeps from our minds the petty irritations of our common life, so the flood of esthetic emotion lifts us above them.

Spens, Janet. Elizabethan Drama. London: Metheun & Co. 1922. Shakespeare Online. June 2009 (22/05/2013)

This tragedies can be seen with the protagonist falling from significant power and virtue to a pitiful state, often as a result of their possessing a fatal flaw such as jealousy or ambition, exacerbated by external pressures including traditional societies, fate or the “villain” whose aim is to bring about their demise. In this, Shakespeare explores the concept of human nature by presenting a contrast between good and evil, another common feature of his plays. Many of his plays focus on historical figures that were English Kings. These history plays are often full of action and entail tragic aspects which attracted vast audiences at the time and continue to do so now.

‘Death’ is a major feature of Shakespearean plays, with many characters’ fate resulting in death (Romeo and Juliet being a famously known example), as well as murder highlighting the tyrannical nature of characters whilst being a representation of their darker ‘human’ qualities. Along with their deaths, characters often exhibit long dying speeches which are quite hilarious in all honesty.

Common features of Shakespeare’s plays, Anisa / Spinebreaker

But also they have differences, they are all unique plays that have varied stories. This tragedies have been seen as masterpieces throughout the centuries, but what we do not know about them is that every single one has been entirely written to entertain and amuse the public.

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