Henry Fielding: The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great

(729 words)
  • Thomas R. Cleary (University of Victoria, British Columbia)

The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great, which began a successful run at the Haymarket and was published on 24 March 1731, is the third and most fully developed, three-act version of Fielding's farcical, parodic travesty mocking the absurdities of bad – and even good – English tragedies. Two slighter, two-act versions had enjoyed considerable successes and been published in April and May 1730. As one reading of its main title implies, the play is a continual, hilariously reductive, utterly unserious pastiche or near-cento of parodies of earlier plays, ranging from relatively obscure works to Hamlet: a mock “tragedy [made out] of tragedies.”

Its action centers around a …

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Citation:
Cleary, Thomas R.. "The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 19 December 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8397, accessed 19 September 2014.]