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Willy Loman And Oedipus Essay

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The Tragic Flaws of Oedipus Rex and Willy Loman In in the plays Oedipus Rex and Death of a Salesman, the concept of hamartia is evident within each protagonist. The tragic characters Oedipus and Willy Loman inherent flaws that ultimately lead to their downfalls. Aristotle describes tragic heroes and hamartia: …that of a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty. He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous — a personage like Oedipus, Thyestes, or other illustrious men of such families. (XIII) In this quote, Aristotle believes Oedipus to be one of the best examples of a tragic hero. He also states that all tragic heroes have flaws which are the main causes for their downfalls. Oedipus is an example of a classic tragic hero while Willy Loman is a modern tragic hero however, both Oedipus and Willy have similar flaws. They both experience hubris because they struggle with reality due to their arrogance and self-pride. As a result, these characters inflict harm to themselves due to their lack of right judgement. In addition, these tragic heroes are blind and fail to see the tragic flaws in which they have. The hubris which Oedipus has is a fatal flaw that makes him struggle with the notion of his fate and reality. This causes him to act arrogantly and wrongly in situations he is confronted with. Oedipus demonstrates hubris by trying to deny his fate by running away from his mother and father (who he thought to be). It was destined by the Delphi Oracle for him to marry his mother and kill his father, yet Oedipus tries to alter this by starting a new life: "I was the man who should marry his own mother, shed his father’s blood ... ... middle of paper ... ... hero while Willy is a common man and resembles a modern tragic hero, both protagonists demonstrate excessive amount of pride and arrogance. The hubris of the two characters is evident throughout the play as seen through Oedipus, who attempts to alter his fate and Willy, who rejects Charley’s offer for work. The flaws that these characters possess cause them to inflict harm towards themselves, as Oedipus stabs his own eyes and Willy commits suicide. Also, these protagonists are blinded by their own realities. Oedipus tries to change his fate and shows disrespect towards those who speak the truth that he does not want to hear. Willy Loman believes he is a successful businessman and continuously lies to himself so he can prove that he is very well liked. Both Oedipus and Willy have goals to try and prove something, but as tragic heroes, fail to prove themselves.
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