domestic tragedy

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A kind of tragedy in which the leading characters belong to the middle class rather than to the royal or noble ranks usually represented in tragic drama, and in which the action concerns family affairs rather than public matters of state. A few English verse plays from Shakespeare's time belong to this category: the chief examples are the anonymous Tragedy of Mr Arden of Feversham (1592), Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603), and A Yorkshire Tragedy (1608, of uncertain authorship). Domestic tragedy was revived in prose by George Lillo with The London Merchant (1732) and his new version of Arden of Feversham (1759). Lillo's influence led to the appearance of ‘domestic’ prose dramas in Germany with G. E. Lessing's tragedy Miss Sara Sampson (1755), and in France with Diderot's drames. A later revival is seen in the American tragedies of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. Domestic tragedy is sometimes known as ‘bourgeois tragedy’.

Subjects: Literature.

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