Tragicomedy characteristics authors and works in detail


The definition of Tragicomedy is a theatrical genre in which tragic and comic elements that happen to the characters intermingle during play. It is one of the most characteristic genres of classical theater, whose origin dates back to ancient Greece.

As these are events that can happen in real life, it is also known under the name of psychological work because it reflects human nature in all its range of feelings and emotions.

During the development of the tragicomic work, the characters go through various circumstances that have unexpected changes but that within the plot are completely plausible, which allows the public to feel reflected in this genre, which is usually realistic.


This theatrical genre originated in ancient Greece, where tragicomedy was one of the shows that most attracted the public since it was about seeing well-known legends represented.

Since the time of ancient Greece, the public has known that in these hybrid theater pieces they will find elements of the tragedy that will show them a dark and sad side, with elements of comedy that will make them laugh.

Generally, the treatment of tragicomedy in Greece was part of the journey of a hero in which the touch of humor was usually provided by the chorus, a group of actors who commented on what was happening on the scene through singing and declamation, generally in a humorous way.

Aristotle is known to have been the first to describe the genre of tragicomedy in his treatise on poetics. Plautus is credited with the first tragicomedy known under the name of Host , featuring the military expedition of Host.

In this piece there is a monologue of the character Sosías in which he makes a parody of Nobilior’s military campaign against the Aetolians. Even today there is a part of this work that is lost.

The plot

Usually the plot of these tragicomedy plays is about the story of a character who is looking for something, pursuing a goal that can be associated with love, justice or some kind of change in his life.

On the way, this character encounters obstacles that make it difficult for him to reach his destination and with which the tension of the work increases until the outcome occurs, which can be happy if he succeeds or tragic if he does not succeed.

This is how the characters live intense situations, charged with emotions that oscillate between pleasant and unpleasant feelings because the tragicomedy poses that dichotomy typical of the human species.

In this way they develop in an atmosphere where forces external to the protagonist (whether they are elements of nature or other characters that oppose him) prevent him from easily achieving what he is looking for, thus developing a climate of tension.

This type of plot is known as the “hero’s journey” and these stories are very frequent in various types of genres.

After understanding the definition of Tragicomedy, now read its characteristics.


Like every theatrical genre and of literature in general, tragicomedy has certain features that differentiate it from others and that allow it to be easily identified. Its main characteristics include:

Comic and tragic elements are mixed. In the Greek tradition, comedy is given by the chorus, but in the most modern pieces humor can be present in other characters who can respond to the archetype of the jester or even in the hero’s own journey that the protagonist makes.

– There is the presence of human contradictions, so they are usually quite realistic pieces in which the characters and situations show lights and shadows, feelings of joy and sadness, of enthusiasm and pain.

– Generally, the comic element is worked through sarcasm and also parody, resources that achieve an important empathy with the public.

– The suspense is going to work throughout the piece through various events that generate tension and then the denouement arrives.

Lets note the authors after the definition of tragicomedy.


World literature is full of great feathers that have cultivated the genre of tragicomedy. Among them, the following stand out.

Lope de Vega

He was one of the most important playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age. Born in Madrid, he came to the world in 1562 and died in 1635.

He is credited with shaping what is known as the new comedy at the end of the 16th century. It was Lope de Vega who established this theatrical formula as well as the definition of its themes, among which the love stories with many tangles stand out.

His dramaturgy was coined the term “tragicomedy” although he really only used “tragicomic mixture” to explain the mixture of elements present in his texts, with which he wanted to represent the bittersweet tone of the life of human beings.

Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Born in Madrid in 1600, Calderón de la Barca is another of the great exponents of the Spanish Golden Age. It can be said that his prolific dramaturgical work marks the end of the baroque theater created by Lope de Vega.

Calderón de la Barca perfected the model of his colleague Lope de Vega, reducing the number of scenes to keep those that really worked for the plot. In addition, he gave due importance to the scenery and the music, elements that Lope de Vega completely disregarded.

Although he maintained the cultured tone in his style, it was handled through metaphors that could be understood by all attendees. This is why his theater is more accessible than that of his contemporaries.

According to his own account, his prolific work is made up of some 110 comedies and some 80 sacramental cars, hors d’oeuvres, praises and other smaller pieces.

Fernando de Rojas

Originally from Toledo, Spain, he was a jurist with a long track record and transparency, although he has gone down in history as the playwright author of the tragicomedy La Celestina .

According to some researchers, this piece marks the beginning of the Spanish Golden Age despite the fact that there are those who affirm that this text lacks all the minimum elements to be properly considered a dramatic text.

Both his biography and the work for which he is known are plagued with controversies, loopholes, and assumptions.


Next there will be a list of the main works that are framed in this theatrical genre.

The silly lady

It is one of the main works of Lope de Vega that can be registered in the genre of tragicomedy. It is a love story full of entanglements, intrigues and conflicts.

Liseo goes to Madrid to marry Finea, known as “the silly lady.” On the way he runs into someone who tells him about all the shortcomings of Finea, who had been recognized with a great dowry to alleviate her flaws, and tells him about the gifts of his sister Nise, intelligent and cultured.

Upon arriving in Madrid, Liseo sees with his own eyes what he had been told. He renounces Finea and fixes on Nise, who is claimed by Laurencio.

However, this young man is really interested in the dowry of the silly lady. Thus a series of conflicts arises so that in the end everyone is happy and with a completely transformed Phinea.

The life is dream

It is the main work for which Calderón de la Barca is known. It deals with the struggle of human beings to make their freedom to choose prevail, their free will over the impositions of destiny.

It was published by the author’s brother in the compilation First part of the comedies of Don Pedro Calderón de la Barca , a year after its premiere in 1636.

It is a tragicomedy because in this piece the combination of elements of tragedy with those of comedy is evident, even in the construction of the characters itself.

This text has a philosophical complexity that has made it highly analyzed and commented on from the moment of its publication to the present.

We hope that you have grasped the definition of Tragicomedy.

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