Womanly Iconoclasm versus Intransigence: Tragic Realism in the Enunciation of Rebeka Njau’s Drama: A Case Study of “The Scar”
John Mugubi

Every writer has his or her way of looking at various realities. Tragedy can also be a vision of life, one shared by most Western cultures and having its roots in the Judeo –Christian tradition. Despite the fact that theoretical approaches on tragedy can be traced as far back as the days of Aristotle, the term tragic realism came much later. This term was a coinage of Auerbach Erich who lived between 1892 -1957. Tragic realism portrays the irreparable loss of the human, either actual or possible in the lives of its characters. Yet, unlike the Classical, Medieval and Shakespearean tragedies; it operates with a guiding idea of proximity in content to the contemporary social life. Tragic realism unlike classical tragedy is realistic in the sense that it is not built on antique mythology. Aristotle suggested that it was much better for a playwright in choosing a subject, to look to myth and a fantasized reality than to society, history and factual reality. Tragic realism attempts to reflect hard realities of human life. However, we should resist the temptation to discuss it as if it is real life. Realism alludes to works that seek to provide a convincing illusion of life as we normally think of it. A realistic work looks like a clear window on the world where the readers become fully involved in the characters and events. The tragic lies in the irreparable loss occasioned by the experience the hero has undergone. Many people have come to mistake tragedy with a scene where the main character meets his or her death ultimately. In modern tragedy the loss lies not in the character or hero but in the events themselves. William Raymond aptly remarks in Modern Tragedy that tragedy is not what happens to the hero. The ordinary tragic action is what occurs through the hero. Thus, the tragic is embedded in the web of social relationships of which the hero is the focal point. It is in this regard that this paper examines Rebeka Njau’s play “The Scar”; a tragedy that contravenes most conventions of the traditional tragedy. Not only is the tragic figure a woman (in traditional tragedy, the character was inevitably a man), but also an ordinary woman (not high stationed like the tragic characters of the classical tragedy). That Rebeka Njau puts women centre stage in the whole drama, this paper endeavours to dissect the underlying themes relayed through the plethora of female characters enmeshed in the subverted tragic form.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/rah.v4n1a4