- Concepts of Man as Revealed in Tragedy

Concepts of Man as Revealed in Tragedy*

By Shiva Kant Jha

Tragedy is profoundly cognitive and greatly aesthetic. It is, perhaps, the most serious exploration of the essence of existence in its numberless contexts. It gives us the comprehension of the mysterious surges of the Becoming; thereby also of the genesis and dimension of the human values of the Being. A tragic artist is per se a thinker; for his concern is the deepest of the values. Tragic cognition is empirical in the sense that it is got through the scanning of the meaning of the events in a tragic universe. A tragic artist reveals MAN under the aspect of truth and also under the aspect of beauty. "Tragedy is still the form under which the mind may most clearly and freely contemplate the human situation, its issues unclouded, its possibilities revealed.1

In the present paper an attempt is being made to analyse the image of man as revealed in tragic literature. The characteristics of "the universal man" and his intrinsic values are beyond the range of this paper: the intention is to outline the history of man who is subject to the alteration wrought by time and space. Man is no entity: he does not exist as X,Y.........Z do. Man is a concept: the universal Man is an all-inclusive concept; periodic man reveals a certain configuration of characteristics which is an outcome of the exclusion of certain sets of characteristics and values. Each phase of human history has its specific Zeit-geist. "The thoughts and action of men tend to be governed, or at least influenced by some set of general ideas about the nature of the world and men's place in it. A set of general ideas of this sort may be called a world-picture or Weltanschauung."2 A work of art may be an expression of "reality", or it may be a "mask"3 but it is always influenced by the contemporary Weltanschauung.

The artist "is the point at which the growth of the mind shows itself"4 "He is, as it were, at the most conscious point of the race in his time."5

W. T. Stace 6 stresses on "mediaeval" and "modern" world pictures. On the basis of tragic literature it seems to me more correct to think of three world-pictures - ancient, mediaeval and modern. Each period has its own concept of human values, though each period has its dissenters.


Any account of the tragic exploration of human values would naturally have to begin with the great tragic poets of the Hellenic world--viz. Aeschylus (526-456 B.C.), Sophocles (c 496-406 B.C.), and Euripides (480-406 B.C.).

The Hellenic World had a profound sense of dynamic "moral order" (themis). Man's duty was to be obedient to this Order: disobedience to it inevitably incurred 'divine ire' (cf. the concept of diké). The ordering principle of the universe (directed by Zeus) was conceived as restoring order in the universe by subjecting the defiant to suffering.7

Zeus, who prepared for men
The path of wisdom, binding fast
Learning to suffering.

The operation of the dike never shows man as a frail creature easily destroyed under the catherine wheel of Fate. The process of the wreck of the "aspiration" of a tragic hero while struggling with the "Necessity without" is also the process of the manifestation of his glories. Even when Fate is overwhelming a tragic protagonist resorts to the ultima ratio of waging war on Fate. The spectacle of a heroic soul suffering greatly is a characteristic mode of the revelation of the infinite potentialities of man. He breaks and thereby reveals two things:

(a) his acceptance of the Order of Light
(b) his assertion that he is not a frail creature but one who can know the meaning of a glorious existence in the universe of storm and stress.

A Greek tragedy never depresses. When Claudel called Euripides "the Greek Baudelaire" he referred to a vital point. Euripides explored the dignity of man even in the fortuitous universe. He could say (in the words of T. S. Eliot):

"It is true to say that the glory of man is his capacity for salvation;
it is also true to say that his glory is his capacity for damnation."8

Aeschylus shows in his plays the triumph of equity but the triumph of equity is the result of the infinite capacity for cognition that his tragic characters have. The elemental grandeur of his tragic protagonists is the quintessential expression of the ethos of the Epic age.

In his attitudes to life and its cosmic context Aeschylus is more Hebraic, Sophocles more Hellenic. The chorus in Antigone says what Sophocles' tragedies illustrate:

"Many a wonder lives and moves,
but the wonder of all is MAN."

Arnold J. Toynbee quotes the following lines from the chorus in Oedipus at Colonnus:9

Not to be born, by all acclaim,
Were best; but, once that gate be passed,
To hasten thither whence he came
Is Man's next prize - and fast, Oh fast!

and considers the extract Sophocles' "pessimistic verdict on the Predicament of being born into this world....."10. The view that the Greek tragedy presents a pessimistic picture of human lot is the result of a misinterpretation. The process of the "hasten thither" is the process of the unfolding of the dynamic and potential aspects of existence. The crux of the theme of Antigone is human dignity - the wish to be "true to thyself". The central situation of peril is deliberately created by Antigone herself for the wishes to maintain her dignity and her loyalty to the supra-mundane power even though that may incur regal resentment11. Oedipus is described by the chorus as a paradigm. His answer to Sphinx's riddle is MAN. His pattern of tragic evolution illustrates excellently Protagoras' view of man: "Man is the measure of all things." "Protagoras" famous statement is the epitome of the critical and optimistic spirit of the middle years of the 5th century; its implications are clear - man is the centre of the universe, his in in-intelligence can overcome all obstacles, he is master of his own destiny, tyrannos, self-made ruler who has the capacity to attain complete prosperity and happiness.12 The fire which consumes Oedipus is creative and purgatorial. Towards the end of the Oedipus the Rex Oedipus is physically wrecked but is an illuminated soul (who has wrung his illumination after suffering on a grand scale) and becomes on object of reverence in Oedipus at Colonus. When we read Antigone or Oedipus we are less conscious of the hero's vain struggle with ruthless destiny. In the words of Louis Campbell we are more conscious of the emotions of wonder concerning human life and of admiration of nobleness in the unfortunate.

In Oedipus the heart of the problem is MAN who is not as "X in an indeterminate equation 13 but a veritable "anthropos trannos". We are constantly impelled to render tribute to this great demonstrator of the infinite potentialities of man:

"O mirror of our fickle state
Since man on earth unparalleled !
The rarer thy example stands
By how much from the top of the wondrous glory
Strongest of mortal men,

To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen.14

The great tragic protagonists work out their salvation or damnation in the cosmic context of existence. They "take arms against a sea of troubles but "by opposing" end themselves.

In modern times we are losing all sense of human dignity which reveals itself even in the moments of overwhelming peril. The restoration of the sense of intrinsic is the remedy prescribed by the existentialists. 15 This sense of dignity for which we, of "the 26th civilization" (Tonbee's view) so hopelessly crave for, is a sovereign quality of the personality of tragic sufferers through whom the tragic thinkers of Greece set forth their attitudes towards MAN.

The Latin phase of western culture was the decadent continuation of the Hellenic culture with certain modifications made inevitable by the configuration of historical facts of the time. Seneca. (c. B.C. 4-c. 65 A.D.) is the most representative tragic artist of this phase. In Greek tragedies the nobility of tragic sufferers and the triumph of the positive in the universe are empirically justified by the facts and events of a tragic play; whereas in Senecan tragedies the triumph of the positive is the result more of aphoristic assertions than of the pattern of the evolution of the instrument of cognition that every tragic sufferer is. "........ the beauty of phrase in Greek tragedy is the shadow of a greater beauty - the beauty of thought and emotion. In the tragedies of Seneca the centre of value is shifted from what the personage says to the way in which he says it 16. Very often the value comes near to being smartness." The characters in Senecan tragedy are under the bondage of philosophy: they are not the multidimensional beings of the Hellenic world out to explore the plural facets of existence but are to set forth philosophic notions which have only exotic life in the work in which they occur.


Henri Pirenne denies that there was any real breach in the history of western culture until the Mohammedans occupied the Mediterranean. 17 But in tragedy a new phase is observed. The Middle Ages could not produce any great tragic work primarily because the Zeit-geist was not conducive to the tragic exploration which requires infinite faith in man. W. T. Stace has thus drawn the characteristics of mediaeval world-picture and modern world-picture:



The Religious View of the World.

The Scientific View of the World or Naturalism.

The world is ultimately governed by spiritual forces.

The world is wholly governed by blind physical forces such as gravitation, the laws of motion, the laws of chemical combination etc.

The world has a purpose.

The world has no purpose. It is entirely senseless and meaningless.

The world is a moral order.

The world is not a moral order. The universe is indifferent to values of any kind. 18

The Christian view of MAN prevailed during this period. The redeemed MAN was important only as the evidence of the operation of Grace. He was exclusively at God's mercy; for he knew that only divine intervention saved him from damnation and only divine succour could help him in the “darkness of the world”. Hence to a very great extent the mediaeval man had lost faith in his individual dignity because he was constantly obsessed by the consciousness of his frailties. The tragedies of the saints are pseudo-tragedies.19 When tragic sufferers are of the stuff of which we are made their lot is pathetic (for all glory has vanished from our “straw stuffed 20 life” ) Man was the subject of tragic meditation but the Middle Ages found him not the symbol of glories but one “through whom (one) receives a distinct message from the transcendental world. 21” The message was: man is a frail creature always on God's mercy. The study of the following extract will make the mediaeval attitudes to man clear:

“O my most sweete Redeemer, which descendest from heaven, and ascendest this Cross to redeem man paying their sinnes with thy dolours, I present myself before thy Majestie, grieved that my grievous sinnes have been the cause of thy terrible pains. Upon me, O Lord, these chastisements had been justly employed, for I am hee that sinned, and not upon thee that never sinnedst. Let that love that moved thee to put thyselfe upon the Crosse for me, move thee to pardon what I have committed against thee. 22 Man was in the mood of self-surrender: even his salvation could be achieved not by his dynamism but by divine intervention. Tragedy presents not the picture of a frail man but of a dynamic potential man with the right to sin. 23 The mediaevalists had lost faith in human dignity and potentiality, hence the tragedies written in this ethos 24 present only the pathetic picture of existence.


The Renascence may be described as the period of the re-making of man's personality. The sovereign feature of the Renascence is humanism which reveals itself through all the premier works of this epoch, most forcefully in tragedies. "Humanism denotes a specific bias which the forces liberated in the Renaissance took from contact with the ancient world--the particular form assumed by human self-esteem at that epoch--the ideal of life and civilization evolved by the modern nations. It indicates the endeavour of man to reconstitute himself as a free being, not as the thrall of theological despotism and the peculiar assistance he derived in this effort from Greek and Roman literature, the litterae humaniores, letters leaning rather to the side of man than of divinity."25 Western civilization expresses, and indeed achieves, its individuality, not by distinguishing itself from Hellenic Civilization, but by identifying itself therewith.26 This identification was most conspicuously made during the Renascence.27 But the concept of man which prevailed during the period was very different from the concept of man of the Hellenic world. R. G. Collingwood has drawn our attention to this point.

"In spite of the new interest in Graeco-Roman thought, the Renaissance conception of Man was profoundly different from the Graeco-Roman; and, when a writer like Machiavelli, in the early sixteenth century, expressed his idea about History in the shape of a commentary on the first ten books of Livy's own view of History. Man, for the Renaissance historian was not Man as depicted by Ancient Philosophy, controlling his actions and creating his destiny by the work of his intellect, but Man as depicted by Christian thought, a creature of passion and impulse. History thus became the history of human passions, regarded as necessary manifestations of Human Nature."28

It is true that the Renascence man had hyper-emotional personality and his inner world became the chief sphere of exploration. But to regard the Renascence view of man as "Christian" is to consider this remarkable Kuturkampf in a wrong perspective. The concept of man as it emerges from the tragedies of this phase is of organic man with voluntaristic aspects most dominating. In the tragedies written by pseudo-tragic artists the voluntaristic aspects were overstressed to the point of making the whole situation melodramatic (The Spanish Tragedy by Kyde is a case in point). Genuine tragic artists (e.g. Marlowe and Shakespeare) explored the inner world of man in order to underscore the dignity and potentiality of man in an anthropo-centric universe. None could say in the Middle Ages what Hamlet has said about man:

"What a piece of work is man......"

The Renascence tragedies amply illustrate a new world of human possibilities which was discovered by the contemporaries of Columbus and Drake. The transformation of the theocentric universe into anthropocentric one accounts for dominant humanistic note in Elizabethan tragedies. The tyranny of the wheel of Fortune terminates. The sublime egotism of Tamburlaine expresses the coming of a new man who has liberated himself from Christian bondage, and conceives the glories of life in the pursuit of the majestic biddings of the mind:

I hold the Fates bound fast in yron chaine,
And with my hand turne Fortunes wheel about
And sooner shall the Sun fall from spheare
Than Tamburlaine be slaine or overcome.

Marlowe's tragic protagonists seem to reject not only the Geocentric conception of the universe held by the mediaevalists but even the Heliocentric concept held by Kepler: they tend to believe the homocentric concept of the universe. The will to Power which becomes a credo with the author of Thus Spake Zarathustra is passionality advocated by Tamburlaine and Dr. Faustus. The glories of the Renascence man are most manifest in Shakespeare's tragedies in which the three sectors of the existential universe---metaphysical, psychic and physical--are explored to show a tragic universe with a pattern of stormy symphony, in which great men work out the riddles of existence on a cosmic scale. The tragic characters face the adverse music of life with infinitely appreciable sublime grandeur. If Shakespeare himself ever had that 'dark period' which his critics and biographers have imagined for him, it was at least no darkness like that bleak and arid despair which sometimes settles over modern spirits. In the midst of it, he created both the elemental grandeur of Othello and the pensive majesty of Hamlet and, holding them up to his contemporaries, he said in the words of his own Miranda, "Oh rare new world that has such creatures in it."29 While reading Shakespeare the human values and possibilities are our sovereign interest: we are less inclined to pass verdict on the basis of hamartia. To consider Hamlet "melancholy" and Timon a symbol of "hopeless misanthropy"30 is most un-Shakespearean approach to Shakespeare. Deaths in the Renascence tragedy abound and they differ from the Deaths in mediaeval tragedies. Man dreaded Death in the Middle Ages primarily because that precluded "preparation for death" and Repentance. In the Renascence tragedies no preparatory stage is considered essential.31 Macbeth is the symbol of evil. But the symbol of evil too is not bereft of the positive and is an instrument for the assertion of an order in the universe. "Though Macbeth is a miserable, and a banished, and a damned creature yet he is God's creature still and contributes something to his glory even in his damnation."32 One can unhesitatingly accept Professor Alexander's application of Donnes words:

"Thou knowest this man's fall, but thou knowest not his wrestling; which perchance was such that almost his very fall is justified and accepted of God."33

King Lear has a pattern of evolution resembling Oedipus'. A Shakespearian hero is great not because he belongs to the elevated stratum of the society but because he has the greatest capacity of suffering for self-selected values. His values are ultimately not approved by the mysterious principle of existence in universe but the greatness of the sufferer evokes constant admiration. Imaginative potentiality is almost a birth right of man in Shakespeare.34 This restores faith in human values even when man is seen in the state of aberration of values. Man is complex (or "broad" in Dostoevsky's sense)35 not yielding to superficial categorization.

How many goodly creatures are there !
How beauteous mankind is ! O brave new world
That has such people in it.

A great revolution in the sphere of culture was at work in the 17th Century. It is true that "another two or three hundred years had to pass before the epigone of the victory in a seventeenth century Kulturkampf could become fully alive to the truth that Queen Anne was dead.36 Yet the tragic artists of that period reveal a set of attitudes towards man conspicuously different from that of the preceding phase. Man in the tragedies by Thomas Heywood (e.g. A Woman killed with Kindness), Thomas Middleton and Rowley (The Changeling), Webster (The white Devil; The Duchess of Malfi) and Tourneur (The Revenger's Tragedy) is rich in melodrama and sensationalism but very poor in asserting the positive of existence, the nobility and dignity of the Being. Morality that we get in the Duchess of Malfi has an exotic life in the work; for the characters do not have the capacity for working out the moral issues. Man does not discover a pattern of stormy symphony: he shares the same sentiments which Vittoria utters in these lines:

"My soul, like to a ship in a black storm
Is driven, I know not whither."

George De La Tour of Lorraine 37 (1593-1652) meditated in the chamber of darkness (with a candle burning) on the skull and discovered an eternal order behind the confusions, ambiguities and brittleness of human existence. The Jacobean tragedies are rich in moral aphorisms but man in them fails in having empirical understanding of the sturdy positive of the existence. With the Jacobeans set in the period of crisis.


The remarkable Kulturkampf which occurred in the second half of file 17th Century had to struggle for nearly two centuries to establish its sovereignty in the 20th Century. The phase of the Romantic Revival was a short interregnum though even in this epoch the spirit of the late 17th Century Kulturkampf was working with force. With this Kulturkampf begins Modern Age , the most inauspicious phase in human history. Despite the voices of dissent,38 the mechanical view of life 39 has imprisoned us in its cell.40

Tragedies written in this period do not require detailed analysis, for they are at least only pseudo-tragedies. In the period of dissociated and disgruntled men tragic exploration is not possible. The conspicuous absence of genuine tragedies in the modern age is the result of a growing superficial view of man.

In the Age of Enlightenment man was conceived of as a mere log  in the world-machine. This Newtonian  idea is harped on even now by such a distinguished thinker as  Prof. Bergmann:

"I believe as a matter of course that the world is Neutonian."41 The Cartesian philosophy was responsible for a dissociation in Man. The rational42 man of the Age of Enlightenment was not the whole man or organic man. The split personality is the characteristic feature of modern man. In the Age of Reason, the rational man got triumph: in the Age of Romanticism, the emotional man emerged: in our own age man has lost his equilibrium, and the society all right sense of values. Dryden's All for Love, Shelley's Prometheus Unbound and Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral are all out of rhythm with time. The tragedies just mentioned suffer from what Jordan M. Scher calls "alienation."43

The Cartesianism of Dryden, Otway, Southerne, Rowe and Addison is responsible for the absence of complexity in characters. They wanted to invest man with grandeur when the time-spirit was conceiving him as a mere cog in the machine. A wish to prolong the past could not succeed against the overwhelming odds. "In France, Corneille also, it is true, had based tragedy upon admiration, but he had put all the intellectual quality of his Cartesianism into the emotion of a soul overwhelmed by the beauty of noble sacrifices; esteem, with him, was the fruit of a reason sublimated into moral passion, and in this way it bound up the desires of the heart with the decisions of conscience. And if the hero merited our entire sympathy, it was because his nobleness was a conquest, the reward of a cruel struggle against himself. All this subtlety and, it must be said, this idealism are absent from Dryden's notion of heroism; this, no doubt, does not resolve itself completely into mere physical courage, and great stroke of the sword; but its spiritual values seem to depend chiefly upon the lack of any struggle, and upon a victory immediately won over nature and the flesh."44 Even the most heroic soul in the heroic tragedies is a mere "monosign" whereas a true tragic character is a plurisign".45 A comparison of All for Love with Antony and Cleopatra makes the whole point clear.46

The Romantic Revival produced a number of tragedies from which emerges the image of hyper-emotional man with very wrong understanding of values.47 The Gothic culture could not produce a sound, integrated man. Cenci is a typical figure: Prometheus is a figure in Shelley's Utopian vision. The 19th Century was a decadent phase in the history of British drama. Tragedies written in this period of decadence could not be the repositories of the serious explorations of the meaning of life. Absence of genuine tragedies during the period was the result of a Zeit-geist not conducive to the plumbing into human potentialities. Romanticism tried to revive something of the mediaeval world-picture but this revival was not for long on account of the growing force which emanated from the late 17th Century Kulturkampf.

In the 20th Century great attempts have been made to write tragedies all over the West. The most notable artists are Ibsen, O'Neill, Luigi Pirandello, Maurice Maeterlinck, John Millington Synge, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Jean Paul Sartre, Gabrial Marcel. The study of modern tragedies yield to us a more organic and realistic image of man than do the tragedies of the 19th Century England which had very little realistic moorings into existence. But it is not easy to dig out the nuggets of the conception of modern man easily; for the tragic writers in our times very often very intricately combine "a wish for something of the past with the reality of the present".

Ibsen has obvious positive attitudes towards man.48 In Rosmersholm Johannes Rosmer and Rebecca West follow the idea of "to be true to thyself". Rosmersholm is perhaps the more coherent moral vision of Ibsen. Peer Gynt presents a world in which man (Peer) discovers how he is a follower of the trollhood (the philosophy of "to thyself be enough"). Modern society is studied in the work with a wonderful exactitude. About Hedda Gabler Ibsen himself wrote:

               "It was not really my desire to deal in this play with social problems. What I principally wanted to do was to depict human beings, human emotions and human destinies"'.

Hedda's wreck indeed produces a sense of "tragic waste" but the pattern of suffering is of one left desolate and dreary on the cruel waves of time. Ghosts and A Doll's House, two most representative works of Ibsen, present a number of pathetic character's at the mercy of extrinsic and intrinsic forces of determinism.

O'Neill, like Anderson and Synge, believes ultimately in the view that "Life laughs with God's love again" (the closing words of Days Without End). Even in the plays most dominated by Strindbergian destructive obsessions for instance "The Great God Brown and Lazarus Laughed there is an obvious "lyric affirmation of life". It is, indeed, difficult, to agree with J. W. Krutch:

            "It is possible to interpret Death of a Salesman as brutal naturalism and A Streetcar Named Desire as a sort of semi-surrealist version of the Strindbergian submission to destructive obsessions."49

but it is obvious that the world of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller's tragedies consists of pathetic creatures incapable of maintaining individual dignity in the deterministic society of ours. What a critic has said about Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie is equally applicable to other plays by Williams and Miller:

             "The characters (e.g. Laura and Amanda) pathetic though may be are too shallow, too trivial, to have in them the qualities of tragic greatness".

In A Streetcar Named Desire Williams presents a world wherein life has lost all balance and all conformity with the positive forces of existence. Stella and her "virile" but crude husband have regimented personality. Blanche Du Bois, who tries to improve his  ways of existence,    is shown ultimately insane. "The tragic feeling," says Arthur Miller, "is evoked when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing--his personal dignity." Willy Loman of Miller's Death of a Salesman has some amount of imaginative fertility but like Hamlet he fails in action. In Hamlet Hamlet's existence is not all dark and ambiguous: towards the end the note of symphony is struck. "With reflections of the past playing continually over the present, Miller's play focuses on the end of that life when, ironically, the last opportunity for creative action remaining to Willy is the opportunity to destroy himself."50 Despite occasional flashes of the positive 51 the representative plays of Williams and Miller are dominated by some sort of notion of the ambiguity and brittleness of human values. "They represent, that is to say, the collapse of a reaction, and illustrate, as did O'Casey, an irresistible pull in the direction of nihilism and despair.52

A reference, in passing, to the existentialists, seems essential; for in our days they have done most serious thinking about man and have influenced in some sense the whole modern ethos. They have put "emphasis on human existence" and have explored the image of modern man--a disgruntled, decadent, alienated and dissociated figure.53 A character in Gabriel Marcel's 54 play considers our society "lepers' colony" which is growing speedily. Martin Heidegger 55 considers life "unauthentic" and "compulsive": we find the horror of this "unauthentic" and "compulsive" life in the plays of the existential artists--a life which at most points says with Garcin (No Exit 56 by Jean Paul Sartre):

"I don't know. I am waiting."

The loss of human dignity and the undermining of faith in human values are the outcome of our technocratic civilization. Demcracy in the right sense is not against human dignity, rather it makes inevitable the assertion of an individual human dignity. But in our society democracy is perverted, and the socio-political isms regiment human personality. We have grown accustomed to what is called "assembly-line living."57 Reviewing The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud David Baken has said:

"Freud once wrote that the world had experienced blows to its narcissism: the cosmological blow from Copernicus, the biological blow of the hand of (Sic) Darwin, and the psycho- logical blow from psychoanalysis. Each of these, from the vantage point of 1957, has had a paradoxical effect. In spite of seeming debasement of man, each has, in its turn, increased man's power over the forces that govern him, and has thus served to enhance dignity".58

They have given us knowledge about some aspects of man. They have failed in restoring health to the tarnished image of man which reveals itself in the writings of those moderns who have explored the meaning of man's life in the civilization flourishing on a dunghill. I end this section with an extract from W. T, Stace:

"I suggest that current literature and art, which presumably reflect the general Weltanschauung of the age, are impregnated with a sense of the futility and senselessness. If the world as a whole is meaningless and purposeless, so also is human life, and that human life is thus meaningless seems to be the main message of much modern literature. There is a contrast here between the present and the past. To the great dramatists of all time human life has always appeared tragic. But some pattern--if only a pattern of Fate--could be traced in it. It has been left for the modern age to find life literally senseless. And does not the discordant character of modern music tell the same fate ? Is it too far fetched to suggest that the older, more harmonious music reflected the idea of world made harmonious by its obedience to a divine plan, while current music by its jarring discords suggest the uselessness of all things and all life?59


Doesn't the whole account remind us of the Painter's reply to the Poet in The Life of Tymon of Athens?
"Poet. .... .how goes the world ?
Painter: It weares Sir, as it grows.60
In the he Greek thought MAN was a dynamic creature with brilliant creative faculty. Gods ruled the universe: and Destiny often exercised its arbitrariness but MAN was exclusively preoccupied with the working out of the riddles of existence. Man was a great sufferer: he was also a powerful cognitive instrument. In the Middle Ages MAN became a frail creature standing in the mood of self-surrender before the massive CROSS. The Renascence witnessed the revival of the Hellenic view of man modified by the mediaeval view of man [-    a creature of passion who needs constant restraint of Reason (Christ Himself is Reason)]. In the Age of Enlightenment MAN became a two-dimensional creature, a mere cog in the world-machine. The MAN in the Romantic period had greater knowledge of the melodrama of existence than of its equilibrium. The Victorian culture was itself superficial and had a wrong sense of values. MAN in our century is "a helpless and fragile beach-ball. 61 In the melodrama of existence we all are pathetic characters. With no amount of glittering achievements our civilization can camouflage its wounds. Modern man is

"Like a patient etherized upon a table".62

Even if he regains his consciousness he is bound to collapse again for in the present state of affairs his disease appears to have  no cure.

1 I. A. Richards, Principles Of Literary Criticism (London, 1955 page - 6-9. See also page 32.

2 W. T. Stace: Religion and Modern Mind Ch. I. p.1.

3 Cf. the view in Rene Wellek and Austin Warren: Theory of Literature (London 1955) p. 72.

4 I. A. Richards - op. cit. 61.

5 F. R. Leavis: News Bearing in Modern Poetry.

6 W. T. Stace: Religion and Modern Mind. p.1.

7 "..... eagles fashion who in lonely

Grief for nestlings above their homes hang
Turning in Cycles
Beating the air with the oars of their wings
Now to no purpose
Their love and task attention.
But above there is One
May be Pan, may be Zeus and Apollo
Who hears the harsh cries of the birds
Guests in his kingdom
Wherefore, though late, in requital
He sends the Avenger.
Aeschylus: Agamamnon (Tr. by Louis MacNeice (Faber) p.15.

8 T. S. Eliot: Baudelaire in Selected Essays (Faber). p. 429.

9 Oedipus at Colonnus (II. 1227-8).

10 Arnold J. Toynbee: A Study of History. Vol. IX (Oxford, 1954), p. 161.

11 "Ismene: A hopeless quest should not be made at all.
Antigone: If thou speakest, thou wilt have hatred from me, and will justly be subject to the lasting hatred of the dead. But leave me and the folly that is mine alone, to suffer this dread thing; for I shall not suffer aught so dreadful as die ignoble death." Sophocles: Antigone.

12 Bernard Knox: ‘Sophocles' Oedipus’ in Tragic themes in Western Literature. pp. 8-9.

13 That is Ivan's discovery of himself in The Brothers Karamazou by Dostoevsky.

14 Milton: Samson Agonistes. 164-169.

15 Gabriel Marcel. The Existential Background of Human Dignity (Massachusetts 1963), ch. VII. p. 114.

16 T. S. Eliot: ‘Seneca in Elizabethan Translation’: Selected Essays (London) p. 68.

17 Vide Encyclopaedia Britannica vol. 15 p. 648.

18 W. T. Stace: Religion and the Modern Mind. Ch. 7, p. 146.

19 "Tragedy is only possible to a mind which is for the moment agnostic or Manichean. The least touch of any theology which has a compensating Heaven to offer the tragic hero is fatal.”
I. A. Richards: Principles of Literary Criticism. p. 246. Cf. the views set forth by Louis L. Martz: ‘The saint as a Tragic Hero’  in Tragic themes in Western literature p. 150.

20 The evidence is Abraham and Isaac.

21 The expression is borrowed from Evelyan Underhill: Mysticism p. 376.

22 Puente: quoted by Louis Martz in The Poetry of Meditation (Yale University Press) p. 49.

23 "A tragic writer does not have to believe in God, but he must believe in man."
Joseph Wood Krutch: The Modern Temper (New York).

24 "What was wanting (in the Middle Ages) was not vitality and licence, not audacity of speculation, not lawless instinct or rebellious impulse. It was rather the right touch on life, the right feeling for human independence, the right way of approaching the materials of philosophy, religion, scholarship and literature that failed. Man and the actual universe kept reasserting their rights and claims in one way or another; fictions, visions, spectral hopes and fears, in the midst of which the intellect somnambulistically moved upon an unknown way.

Encyclopoedia Britannica Vol. p. 125.

25 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Vol. 19 p. 123.

26 R.G. Collingwood: The Idea of History (Oxford 1946) p. 163.

27 Cf. Spengler's view set forth in Der Untergang des Abendlandes Vol. I quoted by A. J. Toynbee; A Study of History Vol. IX, pp. 65-66.

28 R. G. Collingwood: The Idea of History, p. 57.

29 J. W. Krutch. - Vide supra.

30 Vide. T. M. Parrot and R.H. Bale: A Short view of Elizabetham Drama (Scribner Library, New York 1958). Cf. W. Knight: The wheel of Fire.

31 Theodore Spencer: Death and Elizabethan Tragedy (Combridge Mass. 1936).

32 Prof. Alexander in Shakespeare's Life and Art, p. 173.

33 Donne, ed. Heyward, p. 663.

34 "The Imagination is one of the highest prerogative of man" Darwin: Decent of Man, 1901. p. 113.

35 Sel Dr. K.R. Srinivas Iyengar: Shakespeare's Moral Artistry in Shakespeare Number of Bhavan's Journal April 26, 1964, p. 37.

36 A.J. Toynbee: A Study of History, Vol. IX, p. 68.

37 Lomis Martz: The Poetry of Meditation. (Yale University Press).

38 Berkeley, Kant, Hegel and the post-Kantian idealists, Romantics, the British and American absolute idealists Bradley, Bosanquet, Royce.
(For brief account see the Age of Enlightenment in A History of Civilization Vol. II by Carl Brinton and others).

39 Descartes, Hobbes, Newton, Hume, Gomte, Vaihinger, the logical positivists-Schlick, Ayer, Carnap.

40 For details see W. T. Stace: Religion and Modern Mind, p. 149.

41 Bergmann: Meaning and Existence Madison, Wis. 1960. p. 10.

42 "Rationalizations. . .are maintained only at the cost of dissociation."
Claire Russell and W. M. S. Russell: Raw Materials for a Definition of Mind in Theories of Mind (New York 1960) ed. Jordan M. Scher: p. 545.

43 ".....I refer to the basic rhythmicity with which man as a being in the world is endowed. Man as rhythm in the world is perhaps the most basic aspect of his participant being. Alienation, the non-participant or limited participant state, is the most manifest example of out-of-phase or diatythmic, experience."--Jordon M. Scher: Mind as Participation, in Theories of Mind p. 355.

44 Cazamian: A History of English Literature (London 1954) pp. 651-652.

45 The terms borrowed from Philip Wheelwright: The Semantics of Poetry in Kenyon Review 11. (1940).

46 Eugene M. Waith: The Herculean Hero (London 1962), p. 188. Reference is made to F. Hannmann: Dryden's Tragodie "All for Love" und ihr Verhattnis Zu Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra." (Rostock 1903).

47 It is not the psychology of the romantics that is at fault: it is their standard of values. They admire strong passions, of no matter what kind, and whatever may be their social consequence."
Bertrand Russell: A History of Western Philosophy.

48 Konstantin Reichardt: "Tragedy of Idealism: Henrik Ibsen" see Tragic Themes in Western Literature (Yale university Press 1956) p. 129.

49 J.W. Krutch: "Modernism" in Modern Drama quoted in Two Modern American Tragedies p. 135.

50 Richard J. Foster: "Confusion and Tragedy: The Failure of Miller's Salesman" see Two Modern American Tragedies. ed. by Hurrell (New York 1961), p. 83.

51 An extract from a tragedy by Tennesse Williams:
Alma: ... Who was it that said - Oh, so beautiful thing!-
"All of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
John: Mr. Oscar Wilde.
Alma: (somewhat taken aback) Well, regardless of who said it, it's still true. Some of us are looking at the stars."

52 J.W. Krutch.: "Modernism in Modern Drama" (Ithca, N.Y.) see Two Modern American Tragedies, ed. by Hurrell, p. 135.

53 "... existentialism's concern about man grows out of specifically modern conditions.. .Among these conditions are the loss of the individual in mass culture and technology, the consequent alienation of the human person from himself as well as from his productions, and the loss of meaning in life through divisions within the human spirit. The result of these conditions is frequently called "the existential experience."
Robert N. Beck: Perspectives in Philosophy (New York 1961), p. 341.

54 Quoted by Gabriel Marcel: The Existential Background of Human Dignity.

55 Martian Heidegger: Existence and Being (Chicago).

56 Sartre: No Exit tr. by S. Gilbert see Masters of Modern Drama ed. by Block (New York '63), p. 802.

57 "Charles Chaplin, in Modern Times displayed artistic intuition by beginning his picture with a flock of sheep running down a lane as a preface to the hero's struggle with assembly-line-living"
Howard Liddell: The Biology of the Prejudiced Mind. See Theories of Mind cited above.

58 Quoted by John Gassner in Tragic "Perspectives: A sequence of Queries".
See Two Modern American Tragedies ed. by Hurrell (New York 1961.), p. 21.

59 W. T. Stace: Religion and the Modern Mind. Ch.5, pp. 100-101.

60 Shakespeare: The Life of Tymon of Athens Act 1, Scene 1.

61 The expression is borrowed from Donald D. Glad: Mind as an Organismic Integration" in Theories of the Mind ed. by Jordan M. Scher (New York 1962), p. 529.

62 T. S. Eliot: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

* This article is slightly amended version of my article published in the Magadh University Journal. - Links on Shivakantjha - Links on Shivakantjha

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