Monday, February 8, 2016

Everybody Hurts (In a constructive way through the viewing of tragedy)

Imagine the following... You just woke up this morning and you're feeling deathly ill. On a normal day you might have stayed home, but this morning you have an important test in your 1st hour super-omega difficult calculus class. After a cold cup of coffee and slice of un-toasted bread, (Surprise! your electricity is out!) you drag yourself out to your car (which is covered in ice, this being a tragedy and all). After getting the keys in the ignition, you hear a sound vaguely reminiscent of third grade recorder class combined with the moans of agony a tortured hostage might give; and your car fails to start. Now, you are desperately running through the snow to get to your school; which is 7 miles away (you choice enrolled after all). All of your efforts have been in vain however, the bell rang just a few minutes ago and the teacher locked their door wondering why their usual super-student isn't in attendance for the huge test. So, you take the long, dejected walk home--at least you may find some comfort there. But as you open the front door a distinct aura of death overcomes you and in the adorable bed you bought him just last week lies your now deceased puppy, Spot.

Take a deep breath...

Aren't you glad that isn't how your morning went?

This is the core of tragedy. Through viewing the suffering of others we can feel fear and pity for them. Fear that we may ourselves one day face a horrible tragedy similar to the one on stage, and pity for the hero's downfall. According to Aristotle these to responses can evoke a state known as catharsis. Catharsis is like an emotional deep cleanse through an outburst of negative feelings. By getting out all of the fear and sadness, we can feel a state of emotional ease and purity. Some people find catharsis through screaming at walls and listening to angry music. But I believe that truly sophisticated AP Lit loving individuals can find it through a good tragedy. (the info for this paragraph comes from David E. Riva's TEDEd video at

There is another, more scientifically proven way that tragedy affects the human psyche. Remember in the first paragraph how I described your dead puppy Spot? That lifeless, literary corpse of a dog most likely brought images of a real life pet to your mind. Wouldn't it truly be a tragedy if a beloved pet suddenly died? In 2012 The Ohio State university conducted a study to figure out why tragedy makes us tick. They found that after people watched a sad movie that featured two lovers dying in a war, they often recorded thinking about their own relationships. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick of The Ohio State university says “People seem to use tragedies as a way to reflect on the important relationships in their own life, to count their blessings,”. 

Sadness and heartache a part of the human experience. Everyone has had friends they've lost, tests they've failed, and actions they regret. I think that the reason we are drawn to tragedy is that it gives us a safe way to work out those feelings AND helps us feel grateful for the good things in life.       


  1. Very detailed. Good intro. Good imagination. Creative. Good pathos. Emotional.

  2. Good blog post, bro. Killer introduction, literally. You are very creative. The intro held my attention.