In Raymond Williams' Modern Tragedy, the famous scholar provides an outstanding explanation for the roles of tragic hero and tragic action in modern drama. He argues that "the ordinary tragic action is what happens through the hero" (79, italics are mine). In consequence, the modern tragic hero is not one who is destroyed, but one for whom life's "meanings are reaffirmed and restored" (79). However, as Aristotle stated in Poetics, tragedy must affect "those near and dear" in order to affect the audience with emotions of fear and pity (Templeton 162).
How then could one use "those near and dear" to most effectively examine the intricacies of human society within the framework of tragic action? For the answer to this question, I will turn to a relationship which has been illustrated throughout thousands of years of myth, literature, and history. In Euripides' Medea, the title character murders her children after being spurned by her husband. Roman Catholic iconography consistently contains the image of Mary mourning her crucified son.
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