According to Goethe, ‘All tragedy depends on an insoluble conflict. As soon as harmony is obtained, or becomes a possibility, tragedy vanishes.’
In his analysis of modern tragedy, Raymond Williams argues that conflict in the modern age is serving to renew and revitalise tragedy as a form: ‘Man can achieve his full life only after violent conflict; man is essentially frustrated and divided against himself; while he lives in society; man is torn by intolerable contradictions, in a condition of essential absurdity.’
Charles Segal is among critics who have drawn attention to the dualities of Greek tragedy, an important theme in our previous discussion of Sophocles’
■ Throughout Greek tragedy systems of linked polarity — mortal and divine, male and female, man and beast, city and wild — operate within the dense fabric of the language and the plot to include not just the emotional, interior world of the character or spectator but the whole of society in its multiple relationships to the natural and supernatural order.