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Tragedy is an unfortunate event or chain of events which leads to suffering, loss of life, or serious repercussions, often expressed as drama or literature but the term can describe real-life events. The term may refer to fiction, originally drama and later novels and short stories, and also can be used to refer to real-life events.

Classic drama

See also: Greek tragedy

The original word's etymology comes from Greek tragedy, which was a form of drama invented by playwrights such as Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles in which a tragic hero acts in good faith to strive for a positive outcome but has the unfortunate effect of bringing about suffering. Often the hero has what is called a tragic flaw, a personality defect or trait that brings about the negative outcome.

In the theatre, a tragedy, despite the often grisly ending, brings about a cartharsis for the audience; according to Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, the cartharsis happens because theater-goers experience the pain vicariously, watching it happen in other people, and therefore get a kind of release and are relieved that the horrific fate did not happen to them.

The nature of the flaw may also teach a moral lesson.