20 Module 4 Assessments

Discussion Board

Directions: Choose this link to access Module 4 Discussion: Justice in Tragedy.

Read (see Module 4 Readings) and listen (see the link in Module 4 Introduction) to the performance of Antigone by Sophocles. The character of Antigone has been considered by many scholars to be an early example of feminist hero due to her steadfast commitment to the justness of her cause. However, like all tragic figures, she possess her own tragic flaw. Likewise, Creon has often been interpreted as kind of totalitarian dictator who disregards the will of his people in order to assert his own strength and political. Nevertheless, in some respects, Creon’s resistance to honoring Polyneices, who he deems a kind of terrorist, is not very different from the way that contemporary society treats so-called enemies of the state.

Choosing either Antigone or Creon, discuss how this character presents the idea of justice. What arguments or reasons does the character employ to justify his or her actions? Describe a contemporary situation which you feel reflects this character’s approach to justice.

Submission: Reply to at least two other students, aiming to notice patterns, commonalities and interesting differences in our learning community. All posts should be written in complete sentences and are expected to meet the standards for college-level writing. Original posts should be at least five sentences in length; replies should be at least three sentences in length.

Grading: This discussion is worth 20 points toward your final grade and will be graded using the Discussion Rubric. Please use it as a guide toward successful completion of this discussion .

Course Journal: Tragedy and History

Directions: Choose this link to access Journal 4: Tragedy and History.

In this journal entry, you will explore the historical context for John Millington Synge’s Riders to the Sea. In his 1911 introduction to the play, an American writer named Edward J. O’Brien suggests that Maurya’s suffering is a virtue: “It is their virtue in life to be lonely, and none but the lonely man in tragedy may be great. He dies, and then it is the virtue in life of the women mothers and wives and sisters to be great in their loneliness, great as Maurya, the stricken mother, is great in her final word.” Using the idea of tragedy to describe actual suffering sometimes suggests that there is something noble and mysterious about the difficulties people face. The word tragedy may even suggest that some larger or uncontrollable force, much like the sea, may be the ultimate source of the suffering.

However, historical studies of Ireland in the mid to late 19th century reveal that many Irish people were driven from their farmlands to the less fertile lands along the coast after the Great Famine (1845 – 1852). Fishing was not a primary occupation for most of the people displaced to the coast, and in contrast to farming, it proved be a much more dangerous way of acquiring food and money. Synge’s family, however, belonged to the wealthier, landowning class in Ireland. The very same class of people who were largely responsible for the evictions that took place during the Great Famine. Begin your research by reading a short entry on Riders to the Sea in The Encyclopedia of Americana from 1920. Next, your Module 4 Readings document includes a few pages of Richard Barry O’Brien’s account of the evictions in his book,Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland (1883). Compare his account to a report given by the Liberal Union of Ireland in The Plan of Campaign (1892) on pages 36 – 37. This reading is also included in the Module 4 Readings.

Finally, on your own, find three sources of information about the Great Famine or the Irish Potato Famine, as it is commonly referred to in America. These sources can include other artistic works such as songs, paintings, or documentary films. Explain how this historical context helps to provide a better understanding of Synge’s play. Do you think Synge’s play sheds more light on the socio-economic factors surrounding the difficult lives of the people of Aran, or does the playwright tend to romanticize or idealize their suffering?

Submission: To submit your entry, choose the link titled, Journal 3, above. Choose the “Create Journal Entry” button and complete your entry using the text editor box. Include hyperlinks to relevant texts, videos, or images. Also consider embedding images or videos in your entry to make it more interactive. Be sure to give your entry a title and complete your submission by choosing the “Submit” button at the bottom of the screen.

Grading: This assignment is worth 10 points and will be graded using the Journal Rubric. Please use it as a guide toward successful completion of this assignment .

Course Assignment: Interpreting Tragic Drama

Directions: In this module, we have briefly discussed Aristotle’s assertion that tragedy’s primary purpose is to provide the audience with an experience of catharsis. According to his account, by witnessing the suffering of the tragic figure, the audience is purged of its feelings of pity and fear – as a result, they leave the dramatic performance feeling energized and also curiously relieved of anxiety. However, we have read one work of ancient Greek tragedy that seems to complicate this view. In Antigone , we are presented with a strong female protagonist whose commitment to a higher form of love and justice challenges the audience to gain any satisfaction from her suffering. Similarly, Susan Glaspell’s one-act play, Trifles , focuses on a conflict between competing notions of justice. Once again, it is the female protagonist and her companions who come into conflict with a male dominated society.

In this essay, you will consider whether or not it is appropriate to interpret this play as a work of tragic drama. After reading Part XIII of Aristotle’s Poetics , in which he offers his definition of an ideal tragedy, explain whether or not Trifles ought to be considered a tragedy.

  • Does Mrs. Wright possess a tragic flaw, or like Antigone, is it possible that she does not fit easily into Aristotle’s definition of tragedy?
  • Finally, does Glaspell’s play offer its audience an experience of catharsis?

Submission: Post the assignment using the Essay 4: Interpreting Tragic Drama link above. Use the “Browse My Computer” button in the Attach File area to attach your document. Be sure to complete your submission by choosing the “Submit” button at the bottom of the screen.

Grading: This assignment is worth 80 points and will be graded using the Essay rubric. Please use it as a guide to successful completion of this assignment .


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Literature for the Humanities by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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