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A from of drama which stages the fall of a superior human being from the zenith of his success to the nadir of his misery for some inherent defect in his character. The essence of tragedy is the purgation of pity and fear of the audience. There are several Types of tragedy: heroic tragedy, Senecan tragedy, revenge tragedy, etc.

Types of Tragedy

Heroic Tragedy  

A kind of drama written in grand and lofty style to show a disastrous end of a conflict between love and honour or love and duty. Dryden's All For Love is an example.

Senecan Tragedy

A from of tragedy modelled on the drama of Seneca, a Roman playwright. The essential elements of this kind of tragedy are:


The use of chorus for comment,


A sensational theme involving a quest for revenge, adultery, incest, infanticide, off-stage murder, etc.


Typical characters as a ghost, a cruel tyrant, a faithful male servant, a reliable female, etc.


A highly rhetorical style which is marked by the use of Aepigram, stichomythia (sharp dialogues) hyperboles, etc.


Much use of philosphic soliloquies. Kyd's Spanish Tragedy and Shakespeare's Hamlet follow Senecan tradition except the murders on the stage.

Revenge Tragedy  

A kind of tragedy modelled on the Senecan tragedy. The popular elements of this type of drama are ---a quest for vengeance, ghosts graveyards, insanity, incest, adultery, rape, suicide, arson, play within a play, sensational incidents and horrible murders on the stage. For the gruesome blood shed on the stage this type of tragedy is also known as "tragedy of blood" . Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy Shakespeare's Hamlet and Tourneur's Atheist's Tragedy are revenge tragedies. Revenge tragedy and Senecan tragedy are almost similar only with the difference that revenge tragedy allows murders on stage while Senecan tragedy reports off-stage murders.


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