Drama of a serious and dignified character that typically describes the development of a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny, circumstance, or society) and reaches a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion. Tragedy of a high order has been created in three periods and locales, each with a characteristic emphasis and style: Attica, in Greece, in the 5th century BC; Elizabethan and Jacobean England (1558–1625); and 17th-century France. The idea of tragedy also found embodiment in other literary forms, especially the novel. See also comedy.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on tragedy, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up tragedy? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.