As a student of english throughout all of high school, I feel like I should have some idea of what tragedy is. In the world we consider horrible sad things to be tragedies, things like natural disasters, acts of human cruelty, bad accidents, unexpected or early death and unfortunate circumstances. I guess lots of things can be considered tragic. This should hold true in literature too right? However, when I think about books I've read considered "tragedies" it seems that while including a mix of the things mentioned above, the characters also make a plethora of bad choices to go along with it. That might just be shakespeare though. The best way I can start to describe tragedy is in one word, unfortunate.
After reading a variety of articles the basic definition of tragedy in literature is a display of human suffering that invokes pleasure in audiences. So to fit into this I suppose most of the topics mentioned in the prior paragraph could be worked into plot in order to achieve the desired effect. To go along with my initial thought that bad choices often cause tragedy, I found examples of this while reading about “Tragedy of the Commons” and “Revenge Plays”. “Tragedy of the Commons” is when someone acts in their own interest and against the common good. This manifests in the real world in cases of overuse of natural resources and unethical business practices, but can also be applied to many situations in literature as well. Looking at “Revenge Plays” my thoughts about Shakespeare were somewhat confirmed that shakespeare characters make bad choices. However this kind of lust for vengeance is a very common type of story in literature. So while my ideas are a little more refined now, tragedy can still really be summed up as unfortunate.