In consideration of the plays we discussed in class, the dramatic contents of each play reflect and develop a category of it’s own. Some that deal with comedies, morality, and other’s with, tragedies, whichever the case maybe each play has its unique style and theme. A Midsummer Night’s Dream I believe is unusual among Shakespeare’s plays, since it is lacking a written source for its plot. The wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta was described in Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” and elsewhere. The theme of a daughter who wants to marry against her father’s desires was a common theme in Roman comedy. Nick Bottom and his friends are comic’s of amateur players. Shakespeare must have derived his forest spirits from oral folk traditions, since the mysterious people of the forest might be in turn helpful mischievous or sinister. In “Henry IV Part I”, the king relates a folk legend that “some night-tripping fairy” might steal babies and leave a fairy child or someone else’s child. People may have believed, or half-believed, in the fairies. They might also have been imaginary figures of fun that personify nature.
Another kind of medieval play in contrast with Midsummer is Everyman it refers with death directly along with the metaphor “life is a precious possession.” If you have many rituals, you must “invest” them wisely and use them as you should use material goods, in a charitable way. In the late 15th century English morality play, Everyman, is summoned by Death, he cannot persuade any of his friends to go with him, except for Good Deeds. Death demands the account book from Everyman and tells him to prepare for his death, and as he does he loses all of his companions. At the end of the play Knowledge hears the Angels sing and welcomes him in, and also hears the Doctor recounting the Moral Everyman. In an important way, the play Everyman demonstrates the ways in which a person who does have good traits wastes them. According to the play’s tale, the kind of forces we use in everyday human life can cause every person to waste good moral sense, and take advantage of it.
I believe the dramatic structure within each of the two plays follow a general theme. In the first couple acts the prologue or introduction, indicates the general nature of the play, chief characters, and theme. Usually in the second act are the more complications or development, in which difficulties are introduced. The middle of each play the crisis or turning point reaches their height and must turn over to better or worse. Than finally the conclusion or epilogue takes place which completes the happiness of the main characters in a comedy or a disaster in tragedy.
Tragedy is what brings me to my next five plays. There is an equal development that occurs in each of the plays, a development in which Aristotle compares tragedy to other metrical forms of each play into comedy and epic. He determines that tragedy is a kind of imitation, but adds that it has a serious purpose to the narrative. The purpose that aims each of the five plays that we read in class. The Athenians considered Sophocles their most successful playwrighters and his works continued to be valued highly throughout the Greek world even long after his death. Some idea of how the ancient heroic legends expanded and developed during centuries of retelling, and how they were molded in the hands of the tragic poets, can be forgotten from comparison of the plays based on the same events by Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides. In the rendition of Oedipus he kills Laius, and marries his mother, who is called Epicasta, thus becoming the king of Thebes. In time the Gods revealed the secret of his birth and the two became aware of their sins. Epicasta hangs herself, but Oedipus continues to rule Thebes. But all his life he suffers from constant torments from visions of his mother’s ghost and feelings of guilt. He eventually dies in battle. All three tragedies tell a connected story, but they were written in different times and in a life that is not organic. For example the functions and personalities of the characters are made within the content of Creon who is a compassionate and unambiguous nobleman in Oedipus, a blustering tyrant victim in Agamemnon, and a tragic hero in Medea. Of course a study of the relationship between the plays can be useful when they all fit in together.
The last two plays that I read were also tragedies and two of Shakespeare’s finest, Julius Caesar and Hamlet. In reading Julius Caesar the material seems simplicity of its plot and has directness of its prose for making it accessible for reading. It also has a complexity that is revealed through exploration of the play’s timeless themes and social issues. One of the most important of these themes is the question of what qualities make up a good leader. The play explores this question at length in its detailed examination of Caesar and Brutus as leaders. Although Shakespeare’s Hamlet among all the plays in Shakespearean canon, best reflects the universality of the poet-dramatist’s genius, it remains an enigmatical work of art. It Leads theories of Hamlet interpretations which start with the assumption that the tragic hero has a clear and scared obligation to kill Claudius and to do so without any delay. The basic question, then, is why does so much time elapse before the young Prince sweeps to his revenge? I believe that Hamlet himself would have survived but, Shakespeare would not achieved tragedy and the resulting work would have been more than a cliffhanger. In this it brings to mind another famous philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. He was the most radical philosopher the Western tradition had ever produced; he posed a fundamental challenge to the rationalism that has dominated Western philosophy since Plato. Trained in classical linguistics, Nietzsche in his earliest work described two conflicting “spirits” in Greek culture. The Dionysian after the god Dionysis spirit was passionate and communal. By contrast, the Apollonian after the god Apollo is orderly and individualistic. Dionysian art is music, Apollonian, sculpture and painting. Ultimately they are combined in the great tragic plays of the Greeks, which include Julius Caesar and Hamlet, and there is also a sort of development from Aeschylus through Sophocles. Nietzsche is a theoretical man, fundamentally anti-Dionysian, whose “illusion” is “that thought, guided by the thread of causation, might plumb the farthest abysses of being and even correct it” (The Birth of Tragedy). Nietzsche was in his own way an extreme empiricist. The senses reveal things only as they appear, but there are nothing more to things than their appearance. Since appearing takes place in Julius Caesar and Hamlet from a certain perspective, there is nothing to distinguish one perspective as superior to any other. But however revealing the senses are, their testimony stands mute in the face of “reason,” which distinguishes a “real” or “true” world over against the apparent.
Each of the seven plays separate into categories and connects as a superior to drama in the above aspects. Which makes them a form of art, and enhances me to believe it fulfills its specific function as a comedy, morality or a tragic play.