Saturday, April 21, 2012

A good tragedy is like a Sakura Blossom: The Healing Power of Tragic Entertainment

Tragedy is one of my favorite genres. However it always surprises me how bad of a reputation it has. People are like oh I hate to cry I hate tragedy. However, this only shows that people aren't using the genre correctly because tragedy can be very healing and good for you. First of all there are two types of tragedies: good tragedies and bad tragedies. A well written proper tragedy is cathartic, which means it makes you cry and you feel better afterward. A bad tragedy leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled and hopeless. The good tragedies are the ones that are healing.

The Ancient Greeks spoke of this healing called Catharsis. How it works is this. Life is hard but no one wants to sit around crying all the time saying woe is me. So people tend not to deal with their negative emotions and do what they can to avoid them. So when you go to watch a tragedy where the main characters life inevitability is worse its more acceptable to cry for the characters then it is for oneself. So in doing so you can identify with the story of the characters and deal with your own pain. After  having a good cry you feel better about life. You don't get this refreshing feeling from watching say a superficial comedy. After the good cry you should be filled with a peaceful feeling. If there is one image that makes me think of a good tragedy I'd say it is definitely like a sakura blossom. The flower may be short lived and there is a bitter sweet beauty since its time is short. And in its tragic shortness of life it exudes a beauty.

Besides helping to deal with negative emotions tragedy is the genre with the most truth in it. It talks about human suffering and the problems that people are faced with. There are two types: the plight of common man; and the fall of the great. These are universal truths. The first  one  says hey look this is a problem in society that needs to be delt with. For instance if we look at say Thomas Hardy's work he talked about the corruption of society. You can see this theme in all his work. But then tragedy can also talk about how someone who has everything can loose it all. The Arthurian Cycle is an example of the second type. You see King Arthur rise to power and then in the end everything falls apart. Also you could say the story of the Shinsengumi could fall into that line as well.

Tragedy is a great genre which is healing and thought provoking. It is about the frailty of human kind and the uncertainty of the future. These are thing we are all faced with. Tragedy gives an outlet for negative emotions we might otherwise lock away but it also provides hope. Even if its heart breaking a good tragedy will always say look we might not have a good ending but there is always hope for something better in the end. That is the beauty of tragedy. It's like when the sakura fall there is hope that they will bloom once more.

some recommended tragic works: 
Fathers and Sons Ivan Turgenev
Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
Tess of D'uberville Thomas Hardy
The Magic Skin or The Wild Ass's Skin Honoré de Balzac
The Idiot Fyodor Dostoevsky
Far From the Maddening Crowd Thomas Hardy
The Mayor Of Castorville Thomas Hardy
Romeo and Juliet William Shakesphere
Hamlet William Shakesphere

edit: fixed some typos.