The Importance Of Man In Arthur Miller's Tragedy And The Common Man

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When tragedy as a genre was first being put to the stage in ancient Greece, it was thought to be the exclusive domain of the rich or powerful. Characters who were able to have a loftier fall from grace were thought of as being more truly “tragic” in the ancient world. Oedipus, one of the most famous tragic figures of that period, was a king by both birth and marriage, which led to his tragic end. This tradition was continued through the works of William Shakespeare, the great playwright and tragedian. Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Macbeth were all members of their respective countries’ ruling families (this is not to mention the obviously royal King Lear). Playwright and author Arthur Miller challenged this necessity of nobility in his essay “Tragedy and the Common Man,” in which he argues that normal people are just as engaging in a tragic setting as kings were (and are, in modern performances of classic works). He argues that “in the tragic view the need of man to wholly realize himself is the only fixed star, and whatever it is that hedges his nature and lowers it is ripe for attack and examination” (Miller). In his play, Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller uses the main character, Willy Loman, as…show more content…
In Act II, Biff finally tells Willy that he’s content with not being extraordinary, despite being put on a pedestal his entire life. “Pop, I’m nothing! I’m nothing, Pop…There’s no spite in it anymore. I’m just what I am, that’s all” (1732). The monologue ends with stage directions for Biff, sobbing, to hold onto Willy. This surprises Willy, and when he is alone with Linda, he asks in wonder “He likes me?” (1732). Linda elaborates that Biff loves him. This isn’t necessarily something that hadn’t occurred to Willy, it’s just that his mind had set being liked as being more important than being
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