What Would Agamemnon Do?

When writing tragedies, one must ask himself or herself: “What would Agamemnon do?”

More specifically, what would be done to Agamemnon, as when his wife Clytemnestra stabbed him to death in a brink of fury.

I enjoy tragedies very little; most often they catch my eye when they have a faint glimpse of hope at the end, as when BBC’s Sherlock showed the return of Sherlock Holmes in “The Reichenbach Fall,” a perfect summary of emotion, tragedy, and intelligent endings.

Currently I have not written much in the art of tragedy, so my limited experience may prove vain in the discussion of how to torment one’s character. I find tragedies suffocating when they squeeze the victim’s life, yet stimulating when they prove intelligent; if the character learns something from his life, there is bound to be a happy, if not satisfied, reader at the other end.

If anything, I have yet another master of tragedy from which I can glean my mastery of literature: Scott Fitzgerald, who has stolen our hearts with The Great Gatsby, has also wringed our heartstrings with the novel This Side of Paradise, in which the lucky Amory Blaine, an aspiring genius teenager in the university of Princeton, is locked by the conventions of his time and cannot, or does not by his own convenience, escape these boundaries.

It would be my pleasure to imitate Fitzgerald, if not to write a sad ending then at least to imitate a probing sense of human psychology. No one has better claim to tragedy than the Greeks like Aeschylus, who wrote “Agamemnon,” or the American Arthur Miller, who has wrought our hearts with “The Death of the Salesman.” But if I am to imitate these masters, I must first choose whether I enjoy to write these tales or not.

I am prone to read tragedies every now and then, but until then my heart is set on happier things, by which I can glean the good from the bad in all forms of literature, both tragedy and otherwise.

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6 thoughts on “What Would Agamemnon Do?

  1. I remember reading that play for classic lit and imagining all Cassandra’s lines as read by Summer Glau playing River Tam (Firefly). Quite fun.

    1. Great actress! She would be great for the part. Thank you, Julie. It’s good to hear from you! Yes, I miss Classic Lit too. That’s partly the inspiration for this post. I also found an Agamemnon reference in “This Side of Paradise”!

      1. Imaginary casting is quite fun. I also read Much Ado About Nothing ‘with’ David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the leads, cause I didn’t have access to the film of the stage version they were in.

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