Paulo Coelho once said, “Tragedy always brings radical changes in our lives, a change that is associated with the same principle of loss.” In Poetics, Aristotle describes the qualities of a tragedy and uses the character of King Oedipus as a perfect example of tragedy. In the modern world, authors continued to create tragedies as depicted in the modern book of Death of a Salesman. Considering the time difference between the two books, one is left wondering how the concept of tragedy has remained relevant for many centuries, and whether in the modern world tragedy has changed in any way. In light of these facts, the author gives a personal definition of tragedy and examines the tales of Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman as tragedies. In addition, the author discusses the difference and similarities between the two works before making a conclusion regarding the importance of the differences/similarities 2400 years later.
Personal Definition of Tragedy
From a personal perspective, tragedy refers to a composition that describes a series of misfortunes on the lives of major characters. For instance, the major character will face major challenges and obstacles that sometimes lead to problems such as severe injuries, death, imprisonment, loss of a loved one, loss of a property, or loss of respect and a revered position in society among others.
Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman as Tragedies
According to Aristotle, there are qualities one can use to identify a tragedy. For instance, the tragic hero is always a person of high standing in society, but misfortunes often cause his downfall or death. Violence is another common element identified by Aristotle in tragedies. In the Common Man, Miller argu...
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...ttings. The basic theme is to explore the struggles common people go through in their daily lives. Loman’s struggles after being dismissed by his employers depict the basic themes of modern tragedies.
The persistence of the concept of tragedy in ancient and modern literature works implies that tragedy is a common challenge that man continues to struggle with more than two millennia later. Based on the different positions that Oedipus (king) and Willy (salesman) hold in society, it is also clear that regardless of one’s position in society, people’s mental processes and emotions are the same, and, therefore, they are prone to same fates when they do not handle their challenges properly. Finally, heroes are not determined based on the positions they hold in society, but rather the qualities that make them standout from others or in times of great challenges.
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