Walter Benjamin and Tragedy Analytical Essay by Master Researcher

Walter Benjamin and Tragedy
An analysis of "The Good Soldier" by Ford in relation to Walter Benjamin's theory of tragedy.
# 41523 | 1,900 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Oct 24, 2003 in Literature (General)

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The paper explains how Walter Benjamin, in his work, "The Origin of German Tragic Drama" helped to create a definition of tragedy for the drama and fiction of the Renaissance and beyond. The paper then uses Benjamin's analysis of modern versus ancient tragedies to analyze Ford Maddox Ford's novel, "The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion".

From the Paper:

"Walter Benjamin, in his work The Origin of German Tragic Drama helped to create a definition of tragedy for the drama and fiction of the Renaissance and beyond. Although this work is focused on a particular form of German tragedy, Benjamin's assessment of this form helps us understand how tragedy from the Renaissance onward - that is, from the pre-modern through the post-modern eras - is distinct in important ways from classical tragedy. In this work Benjamin analyzed the key elements of the form of drama known as Trauerspiel, including the extensive use of emblems and metaphors, the importance of the use of symbols, and what he referred to as the "torrential" aspect of this form of drama in which events seem to pour over the tragic hero until he or she is swept away by them.
"Benjamin argues that the classical tragedies are inwardly directed, are in many ways a dialogue between the playwright and the actors on the one hand and the gods on the other: The audience is essentially superfluous. But this is no longer true with the Trauerspiel, which require an audience that laments the tragic circumstances along with the characters and along with each other. These Baroque German plays are works that require a witness to be made complete, and the consensual nature of the tragedy in these plays is one that is based on the use of symbols and emblems. The shift between the classical world and the modern world in terms of tragedy is a shift in focus: The Greeks were alone in their tragedy; we are isolated by ours but continue to seek to make connections even in the face of tragedy."

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