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Foreward I am not completely sure what it is you expect me, as the author of these works, to say. Many authors reveal the process they took to reach the final goal – a complete and typed work. I have no such process to reveal. I wrote down my thoughts in as best a way as I could. I hoped to follow the prompt given to us to the best of my ability, while illustrating a vague notion of what was bubbling in my head. I don’t know if through the course of a year I have improved. I would like to think so. When I left after my junior year to study abroad, my essay in AP language were around sixes and sevens. I was okay with that. However, after this year in AP Literature, I find myself making more eights than not. Using that as an indicator, I suppose I have furthered my comprehension and analysis skills - what do you know. I cannot say I have enjoyed the majority of our readings. Some were far too trippy to me, while others were boring and I failed to see a point in reading such humdrum novels, short stories, plays, what have you…My favorite of all the literature thus far has been Hamlet. I never imagined that I would read the book, let alone enjoy it. However, I did. The essay I wrote for it is probably my favorite, along with my essay for Hamlet and Frankenstein. This is a compilation of my work throughout my senior year at Roncalli High School. They are ordered as I remember writing them chronologically. This may not be the correct order, but it is the order of my mind. As this is analysis from my mind, I thought it fitting to keep it as is. I am also missing a decent amount of works. I will not lie about 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
it. When I was cleaning out my locker, I threw away some of the finished work as I figured I would never need it again. Wasn’t I surprised to find that was not the case. Other pieces are locked within my currently broken computer. I hope you enjoy, even if the work is missing and my forward is lacking in a few words. This is all I have to offer right now. Table of Contents College Essay ----------------------------4 Sin Dolor----------------------------------7 Frankenstein-----------------------------9 Obasan------------------------------------12 Pawnbroker------------------------------14 Hamlet------------------------------------16 Helen-------------------------------------20
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College Essay From the time since mankind first began to walk the earth to now in this modern day and age, humans have wondered about make up of the universe around us. Who created it, if any one did, and why? Are there others out there besides us? What is the meaning of life? The list goes on and on, and consistently crops up during those moments in oneâ€™s life when he or she feels lost. That is why I, as a future college student, began to ponder the workings of the universe around me several weeks ago. My world started to shift then. I knew that much, at least - I just didnâ€™t know in which direction my life was shifting to. I had just come back from my year of studying abroad in Germany, and things were not as I remembered. All my friends were moving 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
on, as college-bound students are apt to doing, while my family stayed pretty much the same; howeverâ€Ś I realized at that time that I had to reconsider my way of living. In Germany, I was just the multicultural exchange student; a guest for an extended period of time. In America, however, people looked for the same me as before - despite my obvious changes. It did not help the situation either that I kept searching for the same people and instances as the ones I left behind. My quest for a balance began slowly. The answers I sought were not obvious, and lack on a solution made me feel disconnected from others. None of them, after all, had gone on an exchange program before. None of them ever experienced such things as I, nor did any of them know how lonely it was to be left out for a year. A friend then recommended meditation. She claimed that it was more then a stressreliever. It helped clear the mind in ways unimaginable and filled one with a sense of peace. I decided to try to seek out the answers I looked for - â€œWhat was my purpose? Why? Who had given me such a task with my life?â€?. Thus, I arranged a night for myself to meditate. I played music, lit incense, turned off the lights, and waited for a response to arrive. As I waited, I attempted to look within myself to see 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
all the workings of my soul. Colourful emotions stained the insides of my closed eyelids as the scent of sandalwood cradled my body. I waitedâ€Śbreathing, searching, feeling. The response I so waited for came as suddenly as the big bang. I came to realize in that moment of the connections that flow from each person to another. One must understand that the life of one can touch another, and then that life will touch anotherâ€˜s somehow, and so on. Strangers could therefore not strangers, but just different parts of the same tapestry of life. I was floored by this revelation, but that was not all I discovered. I also came to the conclusion that if we on this earth are connected to each other, and all the other planets are connected to the earth though the solar system, and then those are connected to universes touching other universes though the Milky Wayâ€ŚWell, it seemed highly improbable to me at that moment that not only were we alone in being the only intelligent beings out there, but that we came into existence without some divine assistance. The scale of the tapestry was much too big to have been created without any help. My meditation relived me somehow. Although I should have felt insignificant, I did not. I was just a simple thread on the tapestry of existence; however, I also knew the great design of it all would be incomplete without any one person. I helped complete the picture, just as any other out there. My purpose in life was still unfounded; as was my definition of the higher 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
being who had a hand in my creation. Yet, despite everything, I felt like I received all the answers I had needed. I did not need to feel alone or like I was the only person out there when, in reality, there were thousands more. That meditation taught me more than I thought possible to learn in an hour or less. I felt a peace within me and a tranquility formed that could not be shaken by the emotions of loneliness or isolation. I learned a lesson that day, one that I would carry hopefully far into the future. I was never alone.
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The title of the story "Sin Dolor", by T. Corgaghessan Boyle, literally translates into "The Painless One". The reference is to the character Damaso's inaility to feel physical pain. However, there is also an irony to it. While Damaso cannot feel pain externally, he does, in fact, feel it internally. His family, and to some degree, the doctor ignore this fact until It is too late. When the doctor focuses on the boy's ability to withstand pain, he does not consider the child's emotional pain. "[A] pain-free old age. Painless childbirth, surgery, dentistry" are each situations in which the doctor believes pain could be eradicated from, with Damaso's help. What he (the doctor) does not realize though is that each of the experiences are ones which carry emotional trauma as well as physical. This is probably the doctor's greatest fault. It makes him act recklessly at times with Damaso, causing the child more pain then needed. It is through the doctor's actions and thoughts on Damaso that the main themes in this story are uncovered. The motif that threads its way through the plotline is of physical versus emotional pain and of morality. The physical versus emotional pain theme is prevalent in the way that Damaso feels a great deal of emotional pain, despite his perhaps miraculous inability to sense physical injury. It is almost as if the child's life is filled with such great deal of emotional pain as if to make up for the lack of physical pain in his life. The other theme of morality obviously comes from the debate about just what the doctor's intents towards the boy are, and if what he did went against the ethical grain. 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
Although, when comparing the doctor's actions to those of the Funes's, it would have to be said that the Funes did, in fact, treat Damaso worse. They ignored his emotional needs, forcing him to hurt himself by acting on his sense of duty for the family - "I have no choice. I owe it to my family. To my mother," is what Damaso said on the topic. The way in which they use him is horrible. As his family, they should pay more attention to him as a person instead of as a way to make money. However, they instead only saw him as a means to an end. The doctor, on the other hand, does seem to care about the youth for more reasons then the potential fame he could gain from their relationship - despite his feelings of wanting to "make [his] mark as one of the giants of the profession, to be studied and revered though the ages instead of fading away" in the beginning. The man even admits to having "developed a genuine affection for him (Damaso). [For he, the doctor] enjoyed explaining things to him...He was bright, quick-witted, with a ready apprehension for the things around him..." Now, if the doctor's relationship with Damaso is purely for gain, why does he not force Damaso to perform gruesome experiments upon himself? The worst the doctor purposely does to the child is to take several DNA samples and some reflex tests. It is true that the man lets Damaso handle wasps and scorpions, but he comes to later regret the wasp incident and the scorpions are his pets, which probably make the Doctor more comfortable letting the child play with them versus what his reaction would have been had the scorpions been wild. 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
Frankenstein"s Monster: The Tragic Hero In Northrop Frye"s Anatomy of Criticism (1957), the literary critic maintains that every narrative falls within four different archetypes - Comedy, romance, tragedy, and irony and satire. The archetype of tragedy is one which "is in the hero"s isolation, not the villain"s betrayal; in fact, the villain is often part of the hero." This tragic hero often times is also an
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"instrument as well as a victim of destruction." The creature brought to life in Mary Shelley"s Frankenstein (1737) is one such protagonist. Frankenstein"s monster does not begin his existence as a specifically "tragic" hero which is defined in the drama world as being "a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy". Rather, the monster is a simple being who merely wishes to have a fulfilling and companionable existence. He is truly ignorant and bears no ill will against another nor has he any outstanding flaw, besides his hideous exterior which is no fault of his own. Indeed, he even states that he "was benevolent and good"[and that his] soul glowed with love and humanity" until fate and external forces, coupled with his own lust for revenge against his creator, brought about destruction. That downward spiral towards the monster"s destruction and that of those around him first comes upon the dawn of the creature"s enlightenment at his own situation. After reading Victor Frankenstein"s Journal, the monster becomes despondent with his lot in life; for his creator had "form[ed] a monster so hideous that even [he] turned from [him] in disgust". Slowly but surely the need for revenge awakens in the creature. The critic, Nothrop Frye, states that in most tragedies there is a basic plot for revenge which the tragic hero partakes in. That plot begins with the initial act, which is an "act [that] provokes revenge and commonly comes 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11
from"another world, stretching the conception of nature and law". Frankenstein"s creation is against the very grain from what humans have come to understand as being "nature and law", so it only seems logical that there would be a rebellion against such an act - Surprisingly, the rebellion comes from the creation itself. The next part of a tragic plot, Northrop Frye lists, is the "counterbalancing movement[, or] an attempt made to set the set things right". Frankenstein"s monster goes out in an attempt to reconcile himself with the world through the family DeLacey. Unfortunately such an attempt goes wildly wrong which spurs the next act in Frye"s definition of tragic plot - "the resolution[, that is the] balancing out the first act, [through which] destruction is often spread beyond the individual hero". At the creature"s escape from "his" forest towards Geneva, the powers-that-be send a lightening bolt of ruin careening down the conductor - that is, the monster - on to other characters. The monster"s hate for mankind, especially for his creator, is palpable as he feels "revenge and hatred [fill his] bosom"[and bends his] mind towards death and injury". When he reaches Geneva, the bolt of ruin finally strikes as the monster lets loose his rage on Victor Frankenstein"s brother and the girl, Justine Moritz. Shortly after, a number of other characters including Victor, Henry, and Elizabeth become caught up in the impending destruction set loose by fate, external forces, and through the fatal flaw of vengeance and the violation of natural 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
law. The creature"s own suffering beneath the hateful stares of mankind, coupled with his actions that cause the anguish of others, demonstrates Frye"s point that tragic heroes are "instruments as well as victims of destruction" and that Frankenstein"s monster in specific is a tragic hero. Without which, the narrative would not be what it is - a tragedy. Moreover, there would likely be no novel at all as the monster is not only the protagonist but also the conflict and the basis of the plot.
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Obasan On “Obasan” by Joy Kogawa, the author illustrates the Japanese Canadian’s perspective during their relocation in the 1940’s. The author’s attitude towards the past is most readily seen through point of view, language, and detail. She is hurt by what occurred, but there is more to her emotions than simple hurt. At such a young age, the text alludes to her feeling as if the exile was also a Journey to bring forth strength in her people. In the first part of the passage, Kogawa writes “we.” There is no individuality. The generations of Japanese Canadians being sent are all the same, for they share the same fate of never returning “home again.” In the second body though, she begins to write “I.” The story is now hers personally. While she is a member of the “we”s, by making the second part about her
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own journey and memories, she illustrates her individuality. The Journey is theirs, but her story is her own. When working with language, it is obvious that the first 3 paragraphs of the excerpt are lofty in terms of word choice. The sentences are structured poetically and with a silent strength to support them. The Japanese Canadians have “pick-axe eyes”, are “hammers and chisels”, “pioneers”, “gardeners”, and “fisherman”. The diction is strong and powerful, eliciting images of so-called “men’s work”. All the words in the second paragraph are not powerful and ones of pride however. They are also the “despised rendered voiceless”, “covered in mud and spiffle”, and those who “flounder in the dust of the prairies”. In the next body of text, however, the writing is very simplistic – like a child’s mind actually. The author spends close attention to details to help along the image of being there on the train “three decades ago”. She states all strangers are essentially family and that those in need are helped. Though suffering, the Japanese Canadians come together – seen especially through the actions of the author’s aunt, her “obasan”. The details, explicitly the details in the second body of text, emphasize the fact that these are the speaker’s memories. She was there, adding ethos to the content. Who is more reliable to tell her story than her? The details in the portion with Kuniko-san and her baby
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illustrate the girlâ€™s need. Then when she accepts the gifts without looking up, it demonstrates her shame though the fault was not hers. Joy Kogawa fully uses point of view, language, and detail to get her attitude of both hurt and strength across.
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The Pawnbroker In the poem The Pawnbroker, Maxine Kumin begins the text in the external world before moving to her own internal perspective. Each stanza is placed where it is to emphasize the separation of the two worlds. She utilizes the rhetorical literary devices of diction, symbolism, and imagery to illustrate the seemingly common “outside world” she lives in versus the “inside world” she finds herself struggling in. In developing the “outside” world and “inside” world of the speaker, Maxine Kumin uses diction. The first two stanzas of “The Pawnbroker” are written in third person, emphasizing that the speaker is relaying information from an outside perspective. In the third stanza, the narration transitions to first person, calling attention to the speaker’s personal involvement in the situation. The speaker becomes emotionally involved in the poem through the use of first person narration. In addition to the shift in narration, the diction is also focus on distinguishing things given secondhand and those given firsthand. In her “inside” world, the speaker recalls that all of the physical possessions she received from her father were secondhand, while his love was always firsthand. This distinction emphasizes that the speaker understands her 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17
father’s love to be more important than material possessions. “The Pawnbroker” also focuses on differences in the connotation and denotation of many phrases. Connotation recalls an “outside” world, while denotation recalls an “inside world.” For example, the frequent use of the world “hurt” in stanzas one, four, and five has a connotation of physical pain resulting from the father’s profession as a pawnbroker. However, the denotation of “hurt” is that of emotional pain, resulting from the poor lifestyle his children are forced to live in and his inability to provide materially. Also, the use of “sacrament” in the eighth stanza is reminiscent of religious sacraments, while the denotation is that of the grace that hard work results in. Through the use of diction in “The Pawnbroker,” Maxine Kumin develops the “outside” and “inside” worlds of the speaker. The passage is rich in symbolism and motifs, starting with that of the father’s feet. The feet are repeatedly described as being “tender and smooth…white” (ll. 4-5), as well as “graceful and clean” (l. 28). This choice of words seem to describe something pure, a contrasting idea to the one most people have about feet. Reading further into the text, the word “hurt” (l. 7, 29, 33) also comes to represent her father’s feet. They cause him pain as he works as a pawnbroker “behind the counter waiting on trade” (ll. 2-3). Externally, this can be taken literally as the father suffers the physical pain caused by his work; however, this can also be taken metaphorically to represent the emotional and psychological pain is job causes him as he is 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18
unable to afford material “firsthand” possessions for his family. In the third stanza, the daughter calls attention to the “secondhand…good things” (l. 17) in her life, to having everything “owned before [her] by [those] whose ticket[s have] r[u]n out” (ll. 18-19). While the father is unable to provide material objects though and probably laments this fact, in the sixth stanza, the daughter admits everything worthwhile – the emotional and virtuous – that she possesses, she received firsthand from her father over the course of time. Time is another symbolic motif that is prevalent in the text. The author mentions she “grew us under…three gold balls turning clockwise” (ll. 15-16), which most likely represents a clock of some sort in constant motion. Then, she illustrates the watching her father’s customers’ “time slip down like sand” (l. 20). Then, in the last stanza of the poem, it is found out that the daughter’s “lifetime appraiser”, her father, has passed away and has left her with a strong sense of grief, a grief she seeks to rid with “[her father’s] bottle of twenty-year-old scotch” (l. 54). The utilization of symbolism by the author in the poem fully demonstrates the speaker’s internal grief at the passing of her father and the difference between that and the “outside” physical world. Another aspect of figurative language seen in The Pawnbroker is imagery. Beginning in the first stanza, the speaker describes her father’s feet as “tender and smooth” (line 4). This description, along with the tactile imagery of how they “hurt” (line 7) implies his feet are worn from use. In a broader sense, the speaker is addressing the positive and lasting remnants of 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19
hard work. The speaker also uses imagery in her depiction of time, portraying it as “three gold balls turning clockwise on their swivel” (lines 15-16) and “slip[ping] down like sand in the glass that measured [their] breakfast eggs” (lines 20-21). Such common representations of time show how it seemed to simply slip away from the speaker and her father, who is dead by the end of the poem. A third display of imagery is in the third stanza, when the speaker talks about being “held…down” and having her “black heart [beaten] white” (line 23). The stark contrast of the two colors, coupled with the negative sensation of being held down, is representative of the terrors faced by the speaker, and explains why the pawnbroker so wishes to provide a better life for his children. Imagery, though primarily belonging to the external world at large, is used by the author as a means of leading into the speaker’s personal internal world. These three literary devices of diction, symbolism, and imagery used in The Pawnbroker by Maxine Kumin accomplish the author’s original purpose of conveying the importance of the emotional, “inner” world versus physical, material world. Her love of her father and the “firsthand” gifts he bestowed upon her meant more to her than the secondhand possessions she had physically received. This is a sharp contrast to the material reality of today’s cultures where having not only firsthand, but designer possessions have replaced the importance of what is truly important – love, family, etc.. Without these devices, the text would lose meaning
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and fail to demonstrate this contrast and the emotional tone of the grief and love felt by the speaker.
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Hamlet In Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet”, the protagonist, Hamlet’s mind, is pulled asunder in a most visible way. The conflict between vengeance for the past versus moving on with the future, the uncertainty of life versus the peaceful “sleep” of death, sanity and insanity. These two halves of Hamlet war throughout all acts following his meeting with his ghostly father. The one side of Hamlet that stands for his logical and sane mind continually makes its presence known. It is his “true” self, the identity Hamlet begins the play with and the one which advises him to act insane as a part of a “brilliant ruse.” Polonius noted even that there was “method to [Hamlet’s] madness.” Though he spoke out of iambic pentameter (thereby signaling “madness”), his comments were still very direct and revealed the hidden collectiveness behind the insane mask. Hamlet also explained to his comrades that his wit only suffered when the wind was “North-Northwest.” On the flipside, Hamlet truly seems to lose part of his mind as the play continues. His famous “To be or Not to be.” Soliloquy questions the so-called “good” of life versus the peaceful rest that is death. Although it may be purely the ramblings of a man depressed, it gives 22 22 22 22 22 22 22 22
clear indication that Hamlet’s mind is in a state of unrest. He longs to rest, “to dream; to sleep” – essentially to escape the torment and stress currently churning in his mind. Then later, when Hamlet kills Polonius in a passionate, i.e. crazed demeanor, it is obvious that the nose to act insane has inspired true insanity within. The war begins. These two forces are the primary conflict in the play as Hamlet’s acting insane and his apparent and actual insanity drive all other characters. His step-parents in their decisions concerning Him, Polonius’ inference, Ophelia and Laertes’ passionate responses towards him… All characters must deal with this conflict that should be singular. Those dealings illuminate the meaning of the work as Hamlet’s battle with insanity acts as a parallel to the insanity of society. Though the corruption of Shakespeare’s time is not as prevalent as it is in our culture today, Hamlet is a man of seemingly rational mind until he loses it in the quest for vengeance. Although Hamlet pleads sanely (much like the wicked plead innocence), his dealings with those surrounding him and with the ghost, indicate otherwise. He let his need for revenge consume him to a feverish point. This struggle also reflects the difference between life and death. To be one of the sane and logical mind is to have life and a voice, though there is an uncertainty there as all logical minds must question surroundings and even themselves. Death, however, is to be insane and without thought. This struggle is seen most clearly in the soliloquy “To Be Or Not To Be.” 23 23 23 23 23 23 23 23
In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Hamlet is most visibly the character undergoing a serious struggle of the mind. His sanity and insanity war in a way that clearly reflects the struggle in society and in the minds of men.
Helen In Aristotle’s The Poetics, the philosopher set up a guideline of indicators titled “the Six Elements of Drama”, which act as a basis for what exactly a playwright needs to create a wellrounded drama. These six elements include the development of plot, theme, character, language, music, and spectacle. Based on this guideline and Aristotle’s belief that “a tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself, in appropriate and pleasurable language;…in a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents
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arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions” (Aristotle), it is easy to assume that Euripedes’ Helen(412 BC) is a dramatic tragedy. The content and center of the play is the plot. In Rachel Hadas’ translation of the play, she emphasized the feministic idea of the play which portrays Helen as a mere victim of not only men, but also of her beauty and of the gods who pull the strings of the world in which she lives in this version. This motif threads itself through much of Helen’s action. This particular plot would be complex, as she makes a reversal of her situation after visiting with the oracle to find out about the fate of her husband. Her tragedy is a serious one--so much so to the point that she would consider suicide, underlining the magnitude of it which is emphasized by the entire war that takes place over her misfortune. She was also the pure wife to a king before she was sent to Egypt to become little better than a slave. This presents her noble soul to the viewers of the play, causing them to care for her and arouse feelings of pity and fear for her life. Unusually, and perhaps because of the feministic nature of the translator, this version of Helen suffers no major hamartia, but rather she suffers the physical flaw of beauty which leads to her’s—and Troy’s—downfall. The theme of Helen becomes prevalent not only through the actions of the characters, but through their speech as well. The translator plays often on the idea that Helen is a victim of her surroundings. She herself has no character flaw, as she longs for her husband that she 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25
remains “pure” for. She has no hubris, which is so commonly the humartia of such characters. Her beauty that she so plainly states on multiple occasions as being so overwhelming is not a source of pride, but rather disgust and woe within her. In this, Helen proves to be a gracious and noble soul whom the audience can firmly sympathize with. There is no question within the viewers that Helen is a victim who should be pitied, but also exalted as she eventually seeks to reverse her fortune with help from Theonoe and the choir of Greek Women. The reversal of fortune is the reaffirming force that pushes “the fact that life is worth living, regardless of suffering or pain” (handout). The characters in tragedies often have four requirements to meet perfect development by Aristotle’s guidelines. These are to be good, display appropriate traits of her person depicted, true to life, and consistent. Helen is a good character overall, as stated above, for various reasons. She has the appropriate traits for a woman with her stature as being married, noble, and youthful. She wished to remain pure to her husband, persists courageously through her depression at being stranded, and in love at her very core. She is a noble character who is not that hard to believe as she maintains that her role as wife to Menelaus is the only rose she wishes to undertake. In this, Helen also remains consistent. The language used within the play is theatrical, as they have a certain rhythm to them that is not natural for everyday conversation. Though the translator had a hand in how words 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 26
and phrases were constructed in this new version of the play, a part of it does come from the original author as well. He uses lengthened phrases, making what he has to say much more complex and round-about than they need to be to still fully present his purpose and meaning. The music and spectacle within the work go hand in hand. When the work is read instead of seen live, the reader must visualize to the best of their ability what the author has in mind. The music in reading of Helen is heard through the rhythm of the language, as each sentence smoothly transitions from one speaker and line to another. The chorus in this drama also plays a part as the music. They act as the voice of reason and as a way of telling the audience certain things, all while speaking or singing within verse. The spectacle, on the other hand, is harder to discern as a read piece is not seen on stage. Instead, the reader must pay special attention to the narration that indicates either action or descriptions of setting or potential props. All in all, it is obvious through reading the Rachel Hadasâ€™ translation that Euripidesâ€™ Helen is a piece of drama and a tragedy, as defined by Aristotle. It includes the six elements and fit in to the definition Aristotle gave for what a tragedy is. It also reaffirms that life is worth living, despite the suffering that is a part of all human life.
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