Tragic Hero • A character, usually of high birth, neither totally good or bad, whose downfall is brought about by some weakness or error in judgment.
Hubris • Arrogance or overwhelming pride which causes the hero’s transgression against the gods.
Tragedy • A play, novel, or other narrative that depicts serious and important events in which the main character(s) comes to an unhappy end.
Peripeteia • A sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal. Reversal of fortune.
Nemesis • Fate that cannot be escaped. Something that a person cannot conquer.
Catharsis • The purging of emotions of pity and fear that leaves the viewer both relieved and elated.
Hamartia • The mistake or misstep that leads the protagonist (tragic hero) to his or her downfall. • May include errors in judgment based on something as simple as lack of knowledge regarding a situation. • In classical tragedies it may cause the protagonist to break a divine or moral law, with disaster and miserly as consequence.
Paradox • A seeming contradiction; whatever sounds impossible yet in fact, is possible.
Irony • A contrast between what appears to be and what actually exists, between what is expected and what is experienced. • Dramatic Irony is when the audience knows something that the characters on stage do not.
Anagnorisis • Change from ignorance to knowledge. • The “Ahah!” moment.
Prologue • Exposition of the play that provides background information on the conflict.
Parados • Opening song.
Dialogue • Conversation between characters on stage. • In terms of drama, if follows the name of the speaker on the script. • Example • PORTIA: Is Caesar yet gone to the Capitol?
Soliloquy • A long speech expressing thoughts of a character alone on stage.
Monologue • A long speech by one character that is addressed to another character or characters.
Stage Directions • Notes included in a drama to describe how the work is to be performed or staged. These instructions are printed in italics and are not spoken aloud. • They are used to describe sets, lighting, sound effects, and the appearance, personalities and movements of characters.
The Greeks believed that the good will of the gods determined the city’s welfare. Reverence, the fulfillment of religious duty, and patriotism were often synonymous. • Dramatic characters had human traits that were actually larger than life. There was not focus on revealing muscular twitches on the faces and whatnot like you see today on television. Although characters have their assigned traits, these characteristics are so universal that the personages represent examples or types rather than unique personalities.
A Greek tragedy is usually centered on the suffering of a major character and ends in disaster. The origins of tragedy are obscure, but by the time Sophocles wrote, tragedy was a highly developed dramatic form, strongly liked with both religious ritual and artistic performance. It used poetic language as well as song and never completely abandoned its sacred origins.
Finally, tragedies were presented as part of a trilogy. Much of the content was based on myths familiar to ancient Greeks. This inherited and familiar cultural background mad it possible for the playwright to include subtle allusion whose importance could be understood by ancient Greek audiences with the benefit of explanation.