|—n , pl -dies|
|1.||(esp in classical and Renaissance drama) a play in which the protagonist, usually a man of importance and outstanding personal qualities, falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances with which he cannot deal|
|2.||(in later drama, such as that of Ibsen) a play in which the protagonist is overcome by a combination of social and psychological circumstances|
|3.||any dramatic or literary composition dealing with serious or sombre themes and ending with disaster|
|4.||(in medieval literature) a literary work in which a great person falls from prosperity to disaster, often through no fault of his own|
|5.||the branch of drama dealing with such themes|
|6.||the unfortunate aspect of something|
|7.||a shocking or sad event; disaster|
|[C14: from Old French tragédie, from Latin tragoedia, from Greek tragōidia, from tragos goat + ōidē song; perhaps a reference to the goat-satyrs of Peloponnesian plays]|
A serious drama in which a central character, the protagonist — usually an important, heroic person — meets with disaster either through some personal fault or through unavoidable circumstances. In most cases, the protagonist's downfall conveys a sense of human dignity in the face of great conflict. Tragedy originated in ancient Greece in the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. In modern times, it achieved excellence with William Shakespeare in such works as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello. Twentieth-century tragedies include Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, and Murder in the Cathedral, by T. S. Eliot.
Note: Aristotle argued that the proper effect of tragedy is catharsis — the purging of the emotions.
Note: In common usage, disasters of many kinds are called tragedies.