Revenge Tragedy

Extension English Essay.
Greek tragedy was the starting point for the genre of revenge tragedy, beginning with the father of this genre, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and producing offspring such as Euripides Medea, the Greek play of a sorceress scorned by her husband and who seeks revenge against those who wronged her. The play follows Aristotle’s law of poetics, the conventions of tragedy, also evolving from the traditional protagonist to involve a female lead. This play is unlike the Elizabethan era play by Shakespeare, Othello, in which the protagonist is the ultimate great man, who is lead astray by his tragic flaw of pride and jealousy, both of which are manipulated by a great antagonist. Marlowe’s Dr Faustus shows us the mortal mans quest for knowledge and power and the lengths he goes to achieve this. The play is also of the Elizabethan era and the conventions of tragedy have been re-invented for the audience of that time who were heavily involved in the idea of heaven and hell, just as Oedipus the King reached its audience through the use of the ancient Greek gods. Modern media took on the revenge tragedy genre and came up with the films V for Vendetta and Sweeney Todd, both following the conventions of tragedy, with a protagonist having a tragic flaw resulting in the hero having a great fall, an antagonist who manipulates the protagonist in assisting him towards the fall, an anagnorisis, or realisation of what wrongs were committed by the protagonist and the catharsis, or purging. This is where the hero dies and order is restored to the society. Man on Fire is an evolved contemporary revenge tragedy that still evokes the conventions of tragedy that are seen in Oedipus the King and closely followed in the plays offspring.