We’ve all read at least one tragedy, whether it was the required high school reading of Romeo and Juliet, or perhaps the recent Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Some readers are drawn to the heightened emotion that is a trademark of a tragic story. Indeed, tragedy can be defined as a story or experience where a person or people end in a state worse than when they began, often including death.
In Romeo and Juliet the tragic elements are obvious, forbidden love, dueling families, and the death of two young people. The work can stand as a definition of the term, because everything in it is tragic. No one escapes the story without being emotionally harmed. The Montagues and Capulets both suffer the loss of a child, and worse, it was both of their faults because it was caused by the friction between their families.
We read to be moved. Some readers prefer stories that are uplifting and inspiring because in turn it uplifts and inspires them. Some like stories that scare them because they enjoy a good spine-tingling thrill. Some like stories set in amazing locations so they can feel transported. In the end it all comes down to escapism. We crave escape from the stresses of our lives by living through someone else’s eyes while reading a book or watching a good movie. It gives us a chance to reevaluate our lives through a different lens and see things in a new light.
A tragedy is meant to be moving. It transports the reader through a spectrum of emotion, often to the highest of highs, before bringing them down to the lowest of lows. The story is often beautiful and poignant and illustrates noble ideals such as courage, grace, and undying love. By reading how someone else copes with a hard situation, we gain strength to face our own.
Is tragedy worth reading and writing?
Yes and no. There are times when life draws too close of parallel to a tragic story and reading about it is too painful. Some people don’t want to feel that deeply, or have their hearts hurt in their casual reading. For me, riding the emotional roller coaster of a great book is a huge draw and I seek those stories out. That said, I have to be in the right mood to dive into a tragedy or it only succeeds in making me frustrated and angry. That, and I don’t like being caught crying while I read so I save those books for nights where I’m alone.
Let’s discuss in the comments –
Who out there likes reading a book that ends in tragedy?
As a reader would you want to know beforehand if a book is a tragedy or not?
Do you like books that make you cry?
What is the best tragedy that you’ve read?