Journal Article

Tragedy and the Mass

Regina M. Schwartz

in Literature and Theology

Volume 19, issue 2, pages 139-158
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI:
Tragedy and the Mass

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There is something unbearable about Iago's triumph in Shakespeare's Othello, but where does this sense that injustice is unbearable come from? Where does the impossible expectation that injustice will end, or the corollary belief—that the triumph of evil must mean the world is out of joint and that eventually it will be righted—come from? Where there is a check upon naked self-interest, relentless aggrandisement, sheer grasping of power, it comes—not from some contractual understanding that our will cannot be done without compromise with the other, some balancing of our freedoms as in Hegel's critique—but from some desire to make the world a just place, that is, to partner the creation by securing it through acts of justice. In Othello, this craving for justice becomes particularly painful in part because it is brought into relief precisely in the context of the other justices, economic and retributive, strict and absolute, that triumph disastrously. When tragedy replaces the Mass as the form where the full force of sacrifice is felt, the distinction between sacrifice and murder becomes urgent—for justice is at stake.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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