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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.


by them. This at least may be said of the principal persons, and, among them, of the hero, who always contributes in some measure to the disaster in which he perishes.

     This second aspect of tragedy evidently differs greatly from the first. Men, from this point of view, appear to us primarily as agents, 'themselves the authors of their proper woe'; and our fear and pity, though they will not cease or diminish, will be modified accordingly. We are now to consider this second aspect, remembering that it too is only one aspect, and additional to the first, not a substitute for it.

     The 'story' or 'action' of a Shakespearean tragedy does not consist, of course, solely of human actions or deeds but the deeds are the predominant factor. And these deeds are, for the most part, actions in the full sense of the word; not things done ''tween asleep and wake,' but acts or omissions thoroughly expressive of the doer, -- characteristic deeds. The center of the tragedy, therefore, may be said with equal truth to lie in action issuing from character, or in character issuing in action.

     Shakespeare's main interest lay here. To say that it lay in mere character, or was a psychological interest, would be a great mistake, for he was dramatic to the tips of his fingers. It is possible to find places where he has given a certain indulgence to his love of poetry, and even to his turn for general reflections; but it would be very difficult, and in his later tragedies perhaps impossible, to detect passages where he has allowed such freedom to the interest in character apart from action. But for the opposite extreme, for the abstraction of mere 'plot' (which is a very different thing from the tragic 'action' ), for the kind of interest which predominates in a novel like The Woman in White, it is clear that he

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