David Hume (1711-1776) was, amongst other things, a philosopher. In his essay Of Tragedy (included in the Four Dissertations volume) he explores the reasons why humans are so keen on tragedy.
Tragic plays include scenes of joy only to better plunge the audience into the next dramatic act. But push the audience – or reader – too far, and they become immune to the effects which should be just enough to ‘excite’ the heart.
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