Shakespeare was a true Artist and a great poet. He wrote both Comedy and Tragedy and was the first to ever write a historical play. Socrates once said that a great poet should be able to write both comedy and tragedy; a feat William Shakespeare attained.
A Comedy is hilarious because it concerns people who are worse than the average person and not as intelligent. We normally enjoy sympathizing with the conundrums that they often find themselves in.
A Tragedy is something much more serious. It should have grave magnitude, and as Aristotle said; “arouse in them sensations of pity and fear.” A good tragedy generally includes people who are just as worthy, if not better than the average spectator; who fall into terrible misfortunes caused by their actions. A good tragedy needs to be complete.
What did I mean by complete? Well, in our everyday life we make decisions based off of our circumstances. However, we seldom see all of the effects of our decision on the world around us. One important decision can continue to have a ripple effect years after it was decided. In our day-to-day lives, we seldom see the full picture of how all of our actions have influenced others; it is not complete. In Tragedy though, we can sit and watch the full effects of one person’s decisions and see them come to a complete end.
So, why do we continue to read and enjoy Shakespeare’s work decades after they were written and performed?
Because his work is complete. Watching or reading one of the classic tragedies gives us a sense of control in our own lives. We can see the aftermath of someone’s life and the impact they had. We may never see the full effects of our own life on the world, but we can have reminders of the power we individually have to influence others.