A tragedy usually involves a hero of high standing with a character flaw that leads to his or her downfall.


Ethan Frome

by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome is a tragic novel about the unrequited love between Ethan Frome and his wife's cousin, Mattie Silver.

This novel has elements in common with gothic fiction, realism, modernism, romance, and tragedy.


by William Shakespeare

Hamlet is a tragedy and revenge play by William Shakespeare. It is one of his best-known works, one of the most-quoted writings in the English language and is universally included on lists of the world’s greatest books.

The Tragedy of MacBeth

by William Shakespeare

Macbeth is among the best known of William Shakespeare’s plays, as well as his shortest surviving tragedy. It is frequently performed at professional and community theatres around the world. The play, loosely based upon the historical account of King Macbeth of Scotland by Raphael Holinshed and the Scottish philosopher Hector Boece, is often seen as an archetypal tale of the dangers of the lust for power and betrayal of friends. It has frequently been adapted. In the theatrical world, many superstitions are associated with “Macbeth,” all connected with the belief that the play is somehow “cursed.” Many actors will not mention the name of the play aloud, referring to it as “the Scottish Play”.

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice is one of William Shakespeare's best-known plays, written sometime between 1596 and 1598. Although it is sometimes classified as a comedy and shares certain aspects with the other romantic comedies, it is perhaps more remembered for its dramatic scenes (particularly the trial scene) and is best known for its portrayal of the Jew Shylock, which has raised questions of anti-semitism.

Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet is an early tragedy by William Shakespeare about two teenage “star-cross’d lovers” whose “untimely deaths” ultimately unite their feuding households. The play has been highly praised by literary critics for its language and dramatic effect. It was among Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Romeo and Juliet are widely represented as archetypal young lovers.


Introduction: “The Custom-House”

The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This introduction provides a frame for the main narrative of The Scarlet Letter. The nameless narrator, who shares quite a few traits with the book’s author, takes a post as the “chief executive officer,” or surveyor, of the Salem Custom House. This section introduces us to the narrator and establishes his desire to contribute to American culture.

Chapter 9: “The Leech”

The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

By renaming himself upon his arrival in Boston, Chillingworth has hidden his past from everyone except Hester, whom he has sworn to secrecy. He incorporates himself into society in the role of a doctor, and since the townsfolk have very little access to good medical care, he is welcomed and valued. An opportuniy arises when Dimmesdale comes into his care.