Modern American Tragedy
"'Why do you go to certain punishment?'...At last. this was the verdict:...I can suffer nothing more than what is my fate There is my comfort." The Messenger in Antigone
I was teaching my class this morning and posed the question, "According to Aristotle, a tragedy is a reversal of fortune caused and suffered by a virtuous but flawed man. Does Aristotelian tragedy exist in contemporary American entertainment?"
"Yes," said one student without thinking.
"OK like what? Give me an example."
"Moulin Rouge."
"Moulin Rouge is a reversal of fortune caused by a fatal flaw?"
"Oh is that how we are defining tragedy? I guess not."
"No,  Moulin Rouge is a tear jerker.  It's kind of the contemporary version of Old Yeller. It's sad. It's a catharsis, but it isn't a tragedy by Aristotle's reckoning. Anyone else?"
It's a hard question to answer. After class,  I thought about it and finally came up with the response "Eyes Wide Shut." Not surprisingly based on a Victorian novel. (I think Wings of the Dove would also qualify.) If Aristotle's definition is so out moded, what would be a more accurate definition to capture the current tragic paradigm? Anyone want to suggest what would be an example of the modern day equivalent of Oedipus Rex ?(Schindler's List? Titanic? The Princess Diaries II?)
And yes, there will be a test.

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