Regressive Progression: The Quest for Self-Transcendence in Western Tragedy

Bahee Hadaegh


Regressive progression is a concept which interestingly describes the developmental process of Western tragedy based on the recurring motif of the quest for the higher self and Nietzsche’s understanding of Dionysian tragic hero. This motif reveals itself in three manifestations - action, imagination and inaction- respectively visible in the three major dramatic eras of the Renaissance tragedy, European nineteenth-century drama, and the Absurd Theatre. Although the approach of the quest regressively shifts from action to inaction, the degree of success of the tragic questers in approximating the wished-for higher self reveals a progressive line in the developmental process of Western tragedy.


Higher self; Quest; Western tragedy; Progression; Regression; Nietzsche; Dionysius; Self-forgetfulness; Self-transcendence

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