William Shakespeare, perhaps the most talked about playwright in the world, was also an English poet and actor . He is considered by many experts to be the greatest dramatist of all time. There are many elements of Shakespearean tragedies. He was England’s national poet and his body of work includes 38 plays, 154 sonnets and 2 epic narrative poems. His genius as a playwright eclipses that of all others of his . He created the most vivid characters of the Elizabethan stage. Traditionally,

Shakespeare’s plays are categorized as comedy, history, romance and tragedy; with some additional categories proposed over the years. Shakespeare is perhaps most famous for his tragedies. A tragedy is a drama in which series of action leads to the downfall of the Hero, the tragic hero. The plot builds to a catastrophe or a disastrous final outcome . This usually involves the death of the hero and many others. In all, Shakespeare  wrote 10 tragedies. Some of his most famous tragedies include Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and King Lear.



Shakespeare’s tragic works largely draw inspiration from ancient Greece . A society that placed value on lessons drawn from plays concerning its religious, political and social matters. In fact, his tragic plays are largely influenced by Aristotle’s classic poetics . Where a protagonist, usually of high social standing, encounters a downfall caused by their own doing, referred to as “tragic flaw”. Some of the conspicuous elements of Shakespeare’s tragedies includes

A tragic hero

Firstly , A tragic hero means a male or female royal of virtuous character . He/She must face adversity either caused by their own flawed persona or sealed by fate. Ultimately they pay the price with their lives, but after recognizing their mistake.

Good against evil

Secondly , Good and evil was as real  in Shakespeare’s time, as it is today. Main reason why the Good vs evil theme reflects in tragedy is the ability of the duo to stir the imagination of the audience . However these elements have existed in the society since time immemorial. Thus the audience can easily identify with both.


The protagonists in these tragedies all carry a flaw, which is also known as hamartia . This leaves them vulnerable and eventually leads to a disastrous end.


Above all , In Shakespearean tragedies, two types of conflicts take place. One internal and  one external. When the hero faces conflict from his antagonists it is external conflict . When the hero faces conflict in their mind it is internal conflict.

The supernatural

However , Superstitious beliefs come to play in some of the Shakespeare’s popular plays. Ghosts and supernatural has formed important part of the plot in dramas like Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth.

Tragic waste

In addition . Looking at Shakespeare’s plays, the hero and villain ultimately die . It is this disturbing demise of good characters also, with the evil ones, that is known as the tragic waste.


Finally , The audience’s involvement in the play leads to an emotional roller coaster. Contains mixed feelings for the hero and their antagonists. While the suffering of the hero elicits sympathy, the audience experiences anger towards the villain. 


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