Sorrowful Events in a Tragedy in Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman

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The Dictionary defines a tragedy as “any literary composition, as a novel, dealing with a somber theme carried to a tragic conclusion”. I would have to expand to say that I believe a tragedy is more of a dignified style of writing that seriously expresses sorrowful or terrible events as they relate to the sometimes heroic individual (the protagonist) of a story. Tragedy as a whole seems to probe the role of mankind in the universe. It plays to the questions of humanity, such as will mankind forever be torn between the forces of good and evil? It also poses the question, is the cause of suffering outside of ourselves, as in fate, or in the evil designs of our enemies, or even the work of the gods? If not, then is it internal? Do we bring suffering upon ourselves through arrogance, self-preservation, or the tendency view ourselves with grandiose illusions?

As a tragedy Oedipus the King spends the majority of the play discovering who he is, without knowing exactly what is occurring. The tragedy was that he suffered the improbabilities of murdering his father and then marrying his mother, it is a tail of his revelations about his past, and the events that led him to his ultimate fall. In this play, Sophocles illustrated a world of human frailty, pride, and punishment, which helped to propel, with dreadful inevitability, a protagonist moving toward catastrophe. Oedipus is the direct cause of his own undoing, however it is not because he is evil, proud, or weak, but simply because he does not know his true past or who he is. The facts that he believes to be true are unraveled, thus revealing his fate. Oedipus meets the first criterion of a Greek tragedy, which is that the protagonist is a good person. Oedipus has both a good he...

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...for the shame in his life, so he blinds himself and asks to be cast out of the city, but Willy takes the cowardly way out by committing suicide, which is punctuated by the lack of people as his funeral.

In Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman, we can see that tragedy is not just a thing of kings and nobles, but that of everyday people as well. We discover that even though the two scenes are set centuries apart, men still have many of the same base struggles, regardless of how they approach them. The differences in the plays, attest to the times they were written and the audience that is meant to view the work. However, I believe as I stated earlier, that tragedy as a whole seems to probe the role of mankind in the universe and unless we become aware of any greater truths, I believe we shall see this scenario as constant thread for centuries to come.

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