The research focuses on solutions to problems experienced in distinguishing between tragedy and pathos. The tragic is always characterised by emotions, and 'narrative can only be regarded as tragic through its tragic theme' (Steiner, 1961:16).
Aristotle was the first to define tragedy he regards dramas/narratives as tragic if the protagonists die at the end, and the emotions of pity and fear are aroused. The tragedies Aristotle refers to all display emotional intensity, but are quite dissimilar. In some, the central emotions are evoked by the death of the protagonist, but in others there are events that are more intensely emotive than the death itself. In this study, the researcher provides an in-depth definition of the key concept 'tragedy', the different tragic emotions experienced and related concepts.
Phatudi'sTladi wa Dikgati (1958) and Rammala's Lukas Mot helet hele (1963) prove clearly that there are two different types of tragedies, one of which contains pathos and the other contains tragedy. The research emphasises that these Sepedi narratives contain tragedy rather than mere pathos.
The focus of this study is Sepedi tragic narratives, which have not previously been investigated in depth (Mohatlane, 2002:17). Only M.L. Bopape, P.M. Makgamatha and P.S.M. Mokgobu concentrated on tragic narratives, and P.M. Kgatla and P.S. Groenewald commented briefly on tragic narratives.
The adopted narratological model employed in this research focuses plot and language usage, which are only briefly touched on in this research, as they have already been dealt with by prior theorists whose explanations of these narrative levels assist in understading the arrangement of the plot in tragic narratives. The research methodologies employed in analysing the structure of Sepedi tragic narratives/pathos to distinguish tragedy from pathos are descriptive, discussive and comperative.
The researcher found few narratives containing pathos and tragedy in African languages, especially in Sepedi. The discussion of tragedy focuses on an analysis of the foundations, description, types and main characters (protagonists) of tragedy. Sepedi tragic narratives and pathos were influenced by Western culture; for example, Serudu's drama aka la peloga le tlale (1990) and G.H. Frans's Maaberone (1940) were influenced by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
In this study, pathos is defined as related to societal sympathy. Holman (1936:166) explains that the 'emotional events in pathos affect the main character, his/her family and relatives, and they are left alone in those miseries and are expected to solve those problems without help from society'. In texts containing pathos, the main character is neither a villain nor a model of perfection, but basically good and decent. Even though the protagonist is great, he dies, but not because of moral blindness or error. He receives empathy because of his good character. The research concludes that in a text containing pathos, the protagonist is portrayed as simple and perfect. The events are so tragic that they induce pity and fear, more than death itself.
Concerning tragic narratives, the investigation focuses on narratives of morality and ethics. Groenewald (1993:37) lists seven types of moral narratives, including tragedy and pathos. The two books that were the focus for this study were Rammala's Lukas Mot helet hele and Phatudi's Tladi wa Dikgati.
The discussion of Lukas Mot helet hele focuses on the concepts of the (a) topic, (b) characters, (c) protagonists/antagonists as the most distinctive elements in tragic narratives and pathos. Authors organise their work in line with themes, which also control the main ideas and supporting ideas of the plot from beginning to end, and the protagonist, who dies at the end. This character is a great person who dies because of flaws (pride, jealousy and failure to take advice from others). The mistake is not easily recognised, it is hidden; it arouses emotions of pity and fear in the spectators. The analysis of Lukas Mot helet hele looks at (a) love, (b) segregation and hatred, (c) the hooliganism of Lukas Junior, (d) the emotional pain of the wife of Lukas (senior), and (e) the character Albi. The literary style (writing techniques) is analysed. Phala (1999:78) describes technique as 'the elements of writing and other concerns of the development of the plot, message and narrative' which are noted after the theme/message.
Phatudi's novella Tladi wa Dikgati is analysed focusing on the protagonists and events that make it a tragic novella. The summary exposes the theme, characters, events, and place. The emphasis is on characters and events as central to tragic narrative. Analysis of Tladi wa Dikgati focuses on the theme, techniques, plot and writing style. The arrangement of events depends on the aim of the author and his objectives. It was found that this type of narrative reveals the emotions of fear, and depicts tragedy, and that the protagonist arouses pain or pity in the reader through attraction and suspense as the main techniques. Events are arranged and language is used to evoke a sense of tragedy and pity.