Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "Tragedy"
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Hegel’s Theory Of Tragic Heroes: The Historical Progress Of SubjectivityThis dissertation argues that Hegel’s theory of tragedy is best understood in combination with his theory of the historical progress of subjective freedom, and that this progress is manifested as the heroes of tragic drama in its different stages of antiquity, early modernity, and late modernity. The truth of tragedy for Hegel, like the content of all art, progresses concomitantly with human freedom, reason, and subjectivity. Likewise, humanity’s self-understanding of these aspects of itself also historically progresses. In this light, I further argue that Hegel’s theory shows tragedy to be not only a historically contextualized cultural practice and form of self-understanding but also a presentation of absolute truth: the truth of a culture at a particular historical moment is presented in its tragedy, yet that culture is a part of a larger narrative, so that a common thread running through tragic drama of all eras comes to light when tragedy is examined through the lens of Hegel’s philosophy. Specifically, I show that Hegel views self-contradiction, alienation, and the drive to reconcile these as underlying universal human conditions, and in tragedy this universal truth is embodied in the tragic hero. This appears in tragic heroes as they take responsibility for unintentional actions, or as they remain fixed to their cause although it brings about their own downfall. In consideration of our own historical standpoint and of my agreement with Hegel’s view that tragedy retains an important role in our cultural self-understanding, this dissertation shifts the focus from ancient Greek tragedy, the prevailing theme in Hegel scholarship and in wider discussions of Hegel’s theory of tragedy, and instead directs more attention to modern tragedy. According to Hegel, a key aspect of all tragic heroes is that they either freely will their actions or take responsibility for them, or both. Additionally, as subjective freedom historically progresses, so does our awareness of our freedom to choose our actions or to take responsibility for them. I show how this progress is manifested in ancient, early modern, and late modern tragic heroes—in works by Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Schiller, respectively—and, finally, in the tragic heroes of some contemporary works of film. The historical grounding of my reading of Hegel’s theory of tragedy combined with my focus on the tragic hero lends a unique perspective to our understanding of Hegel’s theories of tragedy and of subjectivity, and to our interpretations of the tragic works themselves. This dissertation thus sheds new light on Hegel’s theory of tragedy, an important endeavor in itself, with the larger aim of showing how Hegel’s philosophy of tragedy helps us better understand both tragedy and ourselves, as inheritors of and participants in philosophical discussions of tragedy, and as contemporary audiences that engage with tragic dramas in a variety of venues.
Knowing More Than the Hero: An Exploration of Nathan Gabriel's 2011 Production of A View from the BridgeIn 2011 Nathan Gabriel directed Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge for his graduate thesis production at Temple University in Philadelphia. In this essay, Gabriel posits that keeping the character of Eddie ignorant about his true feelings for Catherine until the final moments of the play is crucial to making the play work. He supports his argument by pointing to the changes Miller made in the script between the one-act and two-act versions. Gabriel demonstrates how the play followed Aristotle's ideal for a classic Greek tragedy and compares this ideal with Miller's conviction that a true tragedy should not only be sad but should also teach its audience how to better live their lives. He also defends his choice to keep the true sexuality of Rodolpho ambiguous and examines the creative journey of his designers.
Nietzsche on Suffering, Affirmation, and Modern TragedyAs an artform, tragedy is deeply perplexing. On the one hand, it depicts events that are painful, depressing, and difficult to watch. On the other hand, it is a genre that has been continually replicated, revered, and enjoyed throughout history. I examine Nietzsche’s response to this problem. Nietzsche, I argue, develops a clear response to the paradox of tragedy: Tragedy is valuable because, even though (or precisely because) it is painful to watch, it allows us to affirm life. Interestingly, Nietzsche’s discussion of tragedy is filled with numerous mentions of Shakespeare. I argue that Nietzsche’s comments on Shakespeare emphasize the historically sensitive nature of Nietzsche’s theory of life affirmation. While Nietzsche might seem to be delivering a universal, trans-historical account of life affirmation, his comments on Shakespeare make it clear that life affirmation functions differently in different times and cultures.