Modern Tragedy

6 June 2017

Arthur miller :- Tragedy and the common man:- This essay is a view on the tragedy and the common man, primarily circling around Death of a Salesman and All my Sons. It’s divided into three parts. First we’ll talk about Arthur Miller and his life and what could have motivated to write these plays, the second will be an analytical view of his plays. And the third part will give detailed idea on why it can be called a tragedy. The structure of tragedy has been altered time to time to suit the timeline of the society.

The time when Arthur Miller writes the ocial scenario is rational and more psychoanalytical, hence the subject of the tragic hero also changes, from being a conventional tragic hero from a high status. Arthur Miller’s plays have a common man as the tragic hero. This paper will elaborate on the views of Arthur Miller and his idea of a tragic hero.

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We will keep in mind the timeline and the scenario of the society and the country of the time Miller wrote his plays to understand the idea behind the plays.

Basic theme in both his plays Death of a Salesman and All my sons is related to the almighty illusion of American dream. The ream which plays a major role in downfall of both tragic fgures, Willy Loman and Joe Keller. LIFE OF ARTHUR MILLER Arthur Miller was born on October 17, 1915 in New York and died on February 10, 2005 in Connecticut, United States. He is a very well-known playwright and essayist; he got immensely popular during late 1940s to early 1960s.

Arthur Miller’s family was a victim of the Economic fall, he belonged to a very wealthy family, his father owned a women’s clothing manufacturing company and had around 400 employees, they had all the wealth , a summer house etc. But because of the Market Crash they ost almost everything and Miller had to deliver bread before attending school in order to help his family, and had to do several menial Jobs to pay up for his college tuition fees.

What is a traged According to the dictionary tragedy is “A play dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending, especially one concerning the downfall of the main character. ” Tragedy is basically the downfall of the hero, for the actions he has taken in the past, or some fallacy in him, causing him his misfortune. According to Aristotle in poetics; “Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action of high importance, complete and of some mplitude; in language enhanced by distinct and varying beauties; acted not narrated; by means of pity and fear effectuating its purgation of these emotions. However, the definition of tragic hero has changed from the Ancients and the Elizabethan times to now. Both these times[ Elizabethan and the Greeks] potrays the tragic hero as a man of rank and high stature, a king or a noble man, on whom the entire nation depended, but in modern times the hero of the tragic fall especially in Miller plays is the common man, under the pressure of society, illusions, and liar to imself and the society.

The notable differences between the three timeline is that the ancients had a religious aspect playing a major role in it, and the fate of the gods did matter a lot, the Elizabethan or especially Shakespearean tragedies were self- inflicted, because of the tragic hero’s one quality that makes him powerful and weak. Modern times the tragedy surely is self-inflicted, but it is more society oriented, and man thinking in term of keeping his status in the society. The hero in both Greeks and Elizabethan period are the same, coming from high ranks, but the in the modern ragedy it has drastically changed, portraying the hero from a common class.

I am only keeping Arthur Miller in picture and not everyone in the modern times to Justify the characteristics of the tragic hero as the common man. Ultimately tragedy what in general is that which depicts the down fall of the protagonist after a lengthy suffering of him, provoking the emotions of pity and fear in the audience. Arthur Miller’s idea of tragedy In Arthur Miller’s essay, “Tragedy and the Common Man,” he outlines his ideas on what a tragedy and tragic hero are today. He says that the tragic hero does not have o be a king or of a noble background, but instead, the common man can be considered a tragic hero.

Miller makes the point that the tragic flaw is the idea that the tragic hero is unable to accept anything that may affect their status or self-image. Miller also states that tragedy is not supposed to be pessimistic, but rather an optimistic display of human qualities. “l believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were. ” -Arthur Miller Man’ ‘Tragedy and the Common In his tlrst argument, Miller states that the tragic hero does not need to be royal or oble, for the common man can fit the role as aptly.

Miller explains that this is now obvious through the concepts such as the Oedipus complex, which were originally “enacted by royal beings, but which apply to everyone in similar situations”. He believes that if tragedy were to only apply to kings, then it would be impossible for everyone else to cherish and comprehend it. The most crucial characteristic of a tragic hero according to Arthur Miller is that of the character possessing a sense of personal dignity. This is his notion of having a tragic hero not from high stature or rank.

He is modifying the characteristics of tragic hero from the ones in Ancients and Elizabethans. “l think the tragic feeling is invoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing his sense of personal dignity. ” -Arthur Miller, ‘Tragedy and the Common Man’ Arthur Miller believes that if tragedy were to only apply to kings, then it would be impossible for everyone else to comprehend with it.

The only quality needed for a character to be a tragic hero, according to Miller, is the readiness to “lay down his ife, if need be, to secure one thing-his sense of personal dignity” This concept of the average man being a tragic hero is evident in The Crucible, through John Proctor, a local farmer. The play is about witchcraft practices in a small town, and towards the end John Proctor gets trapped in the wrong accusation that he forced his maid to sign the devil’s book.

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Modern Tragedy. (2017, Jun 11). Retrieved May 20, 2019, from
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