Remember the Bee Gees?

When the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on
It’s tragedy
When the morning cries and you don’t know why
It’s hard to bear
With no one to love you
You’re goin’ nowhere

In Greek theatre (mentioned yesterday) the Bee Gees song may describe the tragic, but it’s not a ‘tragedy’.

Rachel and I watched ‘A Mother’s Son’ – good because it starred Hermione Norris and Martin Clunes, and interesting because much of it was filmed in Southwold.

A schoolgirl is murdered; the evidence points to Norris’ son, Jamie. Although there are suspicions of other possible murderers it becomes increasingly clear that Jamie was guilty.

There is no ‘all lived happily ever after’, no twist in the plot. He did it. It is dramatic tragedy.

Shakespearean tragedies – Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet… all end in death. The context may be love or power; there may be opportunities for change, but innate human weakness, together with the inevitable course of fate leads to a hope-less conclusion.

The dramatic alternative is that through darkness, through a twisting plot, the situation somehow changes and there is hope and a happy ending – the classic Greek ‘comedy’.

We see these two alternative conclusions to coronavirus. Some see tragedy – increasing deaths, domestic abuse, cancelled cancer treatments, lost jobs, lack of PPE and immunisation; no way out. Others see a turning tide; infection and deaths coming under control, good people working selflessly – hope in a world that will change for the better.

Biblical drama repeatedly starts with potential tragedy; through a twist in the narrative there is a ‘happy’ ending. Abraham sacrificing his son, Esther, Job, Jonah…

The ultimate example is Jesus – the apparent tragedy of Good Friday is turned around to have a hope-full ending of new life.

2 thoughts on “Tragedy

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