Write a brief note on Domestic Tragedy

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      The Domestic Tragedy as the very title signifies is a return from the high royal theme of the classical tragedy to the familiar matters of homely domestic life. It is the inevitable reaction to the horror - revenge theme of the domestic world. The domestic tragedy is found to bear certain characteristic both in its theme and in its technique. The primary feature of the domestic tragedy as indicated already belongs to the ordinary work of life. It is no more the story of revenge in royal courts, the shrewd conspiracy from political power or the downfall of some imperial monarch as found in all the renounced tragedies of ancient Greece and Rome as well as English Elizabethan period.

The primary feature of the domestic tragedy as indicated already belongs to the ordinary work of life.
Domestic Tragedy

      The subject matter of this kind of tragedy has nothing to do with improbable situation or any sort of grand heroic feat. The problem of domestic life indeed constitutes the essence of the theme of the domestic tragedy. This type of drama presents domestic problems and conflicts which result ultimately in human suffering and death. The development of domestic tragedy has its beginning in the great elizabethan period and found continued in the restoration age.

      Dryden who wrote Heroic plays turned to domestic tragedies in blank verse. In these tragedies, he shows qualities which his Heroic tragedy lacked. He presented plausible people and simple emotions in fitting language and without bombast. He had drawn to Nature and thus both to Shakespeare and to French tragedy, particularly to Racine.

      Thomas Otway succeeded best in stirring the feelings of the audience through his two powerful plays, The Orphan, and Venice Preserved. The former is a domestic drama steeped in the romantic atmosphere and the latter is a moving study of passion and character against a background of history (the Spanish plot against the Venetian Republic in 1618). The tragedy is built on a series of closely - knit scenes of increasing emotion: the hesitation of Jaffiar, one of the conspirators between the political cause he is pledged to promote and the appeals of his dearly loved wife Belvidera; the struggle between friendship and love; the betrayal of the conspirators; the curse he draws upon himself from his bosom friend Pierre; his despair when the Senate violates its promise to spare the conspirators he has denounced. It is a moving tragedy which earned an honour which did not fall to any of Dryden's plays.

      Nathaniel Lee and Thomas Southerne are two other tragic authors inferior to Otway but exploiting the same vein of emotion. Nathaniel Lee wrote in blank verse The Death of Alexander the Great, Theodosias or the Force of Love, The Princess of Cleve and The Massacre of Paris. Thomas Southerne won applause with his Fatal Marriage and Ornooko. His plays however have no intellectual and artistic value and are essentially melodramatic.

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