Example Of Essay On Tragedy Then And Tragedy Now
Tragedy is a complex of conflicting systems where human beings live in the shadow of failure, suffering and death in spite of the differences in time. Life is a combination of danger, tension and struggle. The success or failure of an individual depends upon the chance factors. The greatest tragedy is the suffering caused by good, which makes the individuals lose the capability of justifying life in terms of discrimination between good and evil. Humans have many ways of backing away from conflicts by denying their involvement in such acts. However, tragedy occurs when the individuals stick to their principles and keep the course of action of their decision regardless of the outcomes. In most of the circumstances, tragedy leads to suffering and ends up in dying. Tragedy offers certain emotions to feel in similar situations in real life. Tragedy reveals the miseries imposed by fate and reflects that all human wish would repel, erase and deny in the course of life.
The critical tradition of “Oedipus the King,” written by Sophocles pushes the audience to an immediate message about the gods, fate of destiny and a valuable moral about life. The tragedy in the play communicates its meaning through the emotional and rational responses of the audience as prior the know-how of the story keeps encountering the difficulties Oedipus comes across in the play’s famous dramatic situations . Human beings generally tend to make their lives into stories, but Oedipus is about someone who finds out that the story of his life is completely different from his imagination. Tragedy is visible when Oedipus’ life makes him the most polluted human beings imaginable. It is evident from the play that tragedy is the submission of one’s own impotence to the will of the divine. “Death of a Salesman,” written by Arthur Miller is a tragedy similar to “Oedipus the King” as it showcases the frustration, alienation and anguish in the human struggle . Throughout the play, Willy Loman exhibits certain personality traits that result in a keen sense of failure. While Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother, Willy opts for self-deception to maintain his distorted image after getting fired from his job. Both Oedipus and Willy fail to fulfill their dreams due to their arrogance.
Power corrupts Oedipus and Willy by blindfolding their positive intentions. While Miller’s play conceals the good reasons for considering the play as a tragedy, “Oedipus the King” offers all reasons to consider the play as a tragedy. Both the plays see the role of tragedy as offering a lesson to the society in general on what constitutes its best interests. They portray the inevitable fall of illustrious men. “Death of a Salesman” is subject to several interpretations and evaluations as no single concept of modern tragedy has ever accomplished the status of a standard measure of classical tragedy like the Oedipus . The protagonists of both the plays are mere victims whose tragedy sheds light on the nature of human experience. While the “Death of a Salesman” attempts to align tragedy with the modern day social drama, Oedipus tries to align tragedy to the well-known ancient Greek history . While Oedipus is a tragedy of heroic humanism, “Death of a Salesman” is the tragedy of a pathetic victim of a severely flawed society. Tragic conflicts generate in both the plays between Willy as a hero and Willy as a psychological case study, and Oedipus as a king and a cursed man at the end of the play.
The tragedy in the plays allows man to realize the need to maintain a fruitful union with his society. In both the plays, tragedy dramatizes identity crises. Guilt plays a crucial role in tragedy, in the same way the feeling of shame shapes an individual’s sense of identity propelling him to indulge in wrongdoings . Some of the similarities of tragedy in Oedipus and the “Death of a Salesman” are the protagonist’s lack of awareness, victimization and diminution of the hero, loss of community and divine order, absence of choice, irresolution of the ending and many others. Tragedy continues to be a central concern because no other modern tragedy has generated a strenuous debate like Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. Both Oedipus and Willy lose their sense of wisdom, which hampers their lives. While Willy’s tragedy leads to the suffering of his immediate family members, Oedipus’ tragedy leads to the suffering of the people of the nation. Though there is a huge time frame between both the plays, the actual concept of tragedy does not change. The protagonists of both the plays realize their identity at the near end of their tragic sufferings. Both Oedipus and Willy hope to change their fate of life, but unfortunately end up in sorrow.
Willy fails to realize himself, unlike Oedipus and ends his life hoping that his family would live better through the insurance policy they would receive after his death. Willy denies working for his neighbor and spends time thinking about his fate, which is a tragic experience because he lived in a period of industrial revolution, which offered immense opportunities to make one’s life magnificent. On the contrary, Sophocles’ Oedipus attempts to confirm his fate at his own will by seeking answers from both the past as well as the future . While the arrogance of Oedipus was his fatal flaw, Willy’s delusion of insecurity and incompetence was his fatal flaw. Both Oedipus and Willy fail to realize the impact of guilt on their lives. While Oedipus realizes his mistakes by the end of the play, Willy fails to accept himself as an average man. Willy always strives to top the corporation and when he gets fired from the job, he faces frustration for his failure as a common man. Oedipus and Willy deserve their tragic fate, but the difference is that while Oedipus had his fate destined before his birth; Willy destined his fate through his actions in the need for money .
Throughout the play, Oedipus craves to know who he is “how could I ever in the issue prove other - that I should leave my birth unknown?” . Willy, on the other hand, fails to understand his competence as a salesman and expects something bigger from life. On one occasion, Willy says to Happy and Billy, “You see what I been talking about? The greatest things can happen!” . Both Oedipus and Willy became the victims of the circumstances that are not under their control. It is evident from both the plays that there is a greater force, which manipulates the lives of men regardless of their will. Hence, it is important to value destiny and act in a positive way rather with arrogance that leads to destruction. It is the responsibility of the humans to value the divine and the society. While Oedipus reveals that the divine is responsible for the fate of humans, Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” showcases that it is the humans that are responsible for their fate. Though the “Death of a Salesman” does not belong to the historical period, it fulfills various elements of the ancient times in terms of both similarities and differences. Thus, tragedy leads to the failure, suffering and the death of Oedipus and Willy Loman in the plays though they belong to different time periods.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
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