Basic Plots in Literature: Tragedy
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it – George Bernard Shaw
Tragedy is like strong acid — it dissolves away all but the very gold of truth – D H Lawrence.
A good tragedy evokes fear and pity in the reader, fear that the same fate could befall the reader and pity for the hero’s fall from grace. A good tragedy will lead to a feeling of catharsis or a purging of strong emotions.
Examples: Titanic, Schindler’s list, Grave of fireflies, Gladiator, Requiem for a dream, Romeo and Juliet, Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island, Revenge of the Sith, Hamlet, The Reader, Love Story,Orpheus, Breaking Bad, Devdas, Batman
Classical Tragedy: The classical tragedy is about a protagonist called a Tragic hero. The tragic hero has the following properties
1) Elevated in rank or ability,
2) Neither too good nor too bad relate-able,
3) Hamartia (Tragic flaw) a common human flaw that leads to the hero’s fall
Oedipus (Hubris) Hamlet (Indecisiveness) Macbeth (ambition)
The tragic hero always realizes his flaw towards the end but it is usually too late to correct himself/herself. A classic tragedy usually ends with the death or disgrace of the tragic hero.
Examples: Orpheus, Oedipus, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Anakin Skywalker,
Modern Tragedy: In modern tragedies common people want common things and act through impulses and instincts rather than through some tragic flaw. The tragedy that befalls them is the result of social situations rather than divine justice being dealt. Modern Tragedy adds the element of irony.
Examples: The Great Gatsby, Devdas, Jack from Titanic.
Here are the stages of a Tragedy:
The tragic hero gets it into his or her head that something is missing, and they want it. This might be power, fame, a specific love interest, or something else, but the protagonist has their motivation for the disaster dominoes that are about to fall.
The tragic hero sets out on their path to obtain their MacGuffin. Something occurs that tells the reader that this is a no-turning-back situation ( Faust’s deal with the devil), and things start to go strangely well for the protagonist. He might be well on his way down the path of evil, but no one is calling him out on it, or no one can stop him, so he proceeds further into the depths.
Right about here is where the tragic hero hits his first roadblocks. They might be small annoyances, but in dealing with them, the protagonist commits additional dark acts that seal his fate and alert the reader that the only way this can end is badly.
The tragic hero’s plan is unraveling, and he can sense that an opposing force or fate is closing in. He’s increasingly paranoid and living in fear of what’s to come.
Destruction or Death Wish Stage
Our protagonist breathes his last, whether at the hands of his enemies or due to some final act of violence. Either way, his death isn’t mourned much, and the darkness that surrounded him dissipates, and there is much rejoicing.
- An employee donates her kidney to her boss, only to find out she has been fired because she is taking too long to recover from her surgery.
- Jack is floating beside Rose after the Titanic sank, what is he thinking as he gives her the wooden door to float on?
- Timmy loves his favorite teddy bear, but so does his new born sister. Does Timmy share his teddy bear or does he fight for it with all his life?
- An elderly woman’s family is suffering in poverty, she is unable to help them and thinks she is a burden. She searches for a way to get herself killed so that her family can have her life insurance money.
- Karna, a tragic hero from Mahabharata, has his chariot wheel stuck in the battleground, and is about to be killed by Arjuna…
- In the hopes of earning more money a Uber driver has been driving long shifts of almost 20 hours, this leads to a fatal accident that kills a pedestrian.
- Pushpavalli a small town girl meets a charming suave man at a food conference and learns that he stays in Bangalore, she leaves her old life behind and moves to the city in search of him.
- A bestselling writer who hasn’t written in a very long time decides to end his life, but finds his writer’s block won’t let him write his suicide note.
- Jack is arrested for dealing weed in his college, he initially protests but finds he has earned the respect of his friends, but the police soon realize that the weed was actually just oregano.
- Sheila is so beautiful that every guy thinks she is out of his league and hence she has no date for prom. She is too proud to ask anyone herself, how does she get a date?
- Two interns are competing for the same job. One of them wants it so desperately that he sabotages the other interns work. He soon realizes that he is going to be offered the job. Will his sabotage come to light? Will he lose his job?
- Paris, the Prince of Troy knows full well he will start a war if he falls with Helen? What is he thinking as he elopes with her?
- A young prince of a small kingdom is faced with a large army that will destroy his homeland, his only option is to embrace an ancient evil that will help him save his kingdom but destroy him.
- Simran realizes that her best friend whom she has loved from childhood is in love with her younger sister. Does she help them get together?
- Dissatisfied with his high tech life Ajay quits his high paying job to join a religious cult that promises peace, only to realize he still has targets to meet and peace he gets is proportional to the number of books he sells for the cult.
- A thief who has been robbing to feed his family realizes that his family has sold him to the police for the prize money on his head.
- A world famous rockstar has a lover who is dying, he is ready to make a deal with the devil, but he can never sing again.
- The chief minister knows that if he remains quiet on a sensitive issue, there will be riots and thousands will die, but it will ensure his victory in the next elections.
- A detective is working on the biggest case of his career and finds out that the murderer might be his brother…
- A middle aged science teacher starts dealing drugs to help fund his cancer treatment.