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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Spectacle'

Spectacle Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    spectacle n
  1. something or someone seen (especially a notable or unusual sight); "the tragic spectacle of cripples trying to escape"
  2. an elaborate and remarkable display on a lavish scale
  3. a blunder that makes you look ridiculous; used in the phrase `make a spectacle of' yourself
Spectacle Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Spectacle \Spec"ta*cle\, n. [F., fr. L. spectaculum, fr. spectare to look at, to behold, v. intens. fr. specere. See Spy.]
  1. Something exhibited to view; usually, something presented to view as extraordinary, or as unusual and worthy of special notice; a remarkable or noteworthy sight; a show; a pageant; a gazingstock. O, piteous spectacle? O, bloody times! --Shak.
  2. A spy-glass; a looking-glass. [Obs.] Poverty a spectacle is, as thinketh me, Through which he may his very friends see. --Chaucer.
  3. pl. An optical instrument consisting of two lenses set in a light frame, and worn to assist sight, to obviate some defect in the organs of vision, or to shield the eyes from bright light.
  4. pl. Fig.: An aid to the intellectual sight. Shakespeare . . . needed not the spectacles of books to read nature. --Dryden. Syn: Show; sight; exhibition; representation; pageant.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Spectacle'

In general spectacle refers to an event that is memorable for the appearance it creates. Derived in Middle English from c.1340 as "specially prepared or arranged display" it was borrowed from Old French spectacle, itself a reflection of the Latin spectaculum "a show" from spectare "to view, watch" frequentative form of specere "to look at. The term "spectacle" has also been a term of art in theater dating from the 17th century in English drama.

The term was borrowed from the Roman practice of staging Circuses, in the rather famous philosophy of the Roman elite of "Bread and Circuses" to maintain civil order due to an inability to solve underlying social and economic problems.

Performances where the draw for an audience is the impressive visual accomplishment. On the other hand, it refers to low cultural shows operating in a folk environment. These can range from the freak show to folk drama to tablieau and beast-plays. The two worlds have always interacted to a lesser or greater degree, with the folks spectacle often being rewritten into a literary spectacle, whether for humor (e.g. The Mechanicals with their performance of Pyramus and Thisbe in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream) or not (e.g. the serious treatment of the folk Everyman).

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'Spectacle' in famous quotation sentence

* The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment but it is no less than a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

* Life is not a spectacle or a feast it is a predicament. - George Santayana

* What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable than that of Liberty and Learning, each leaning on the other for their natural and surest support. - James Madison

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