The Everyman's Tragedy
In the essay "Tragedy and the Common Man" by Arthur Miller, the idea that a tragedy cannot take place with modern people is opened up and examined. In the stories of old, a tragedy was the downfall of some powerful figure. Oedipus the King, Prince Hamlet, the Montagues and the Capulets. Because of this, our age may think tragedy too high a prospect for the common world. Alternatively, we may find ourselves thinking that such a flaw featured in a tragedy could never befall our analytical minds. So a tragedy may be beneath modern mankind nowadays. Either way, tragedy finds itself out of favor in recent literary tradition. However, Miller seeks to refute the usual view of tragedy and prove that we, too, experience the tragic downfalls of a Greek king or noble families.
In the beginning of his essay, Miller issues this statement, "...such as the Oedipus and Orestes complexes, for instance, which were enacted by royal beings but which apply to everyone in similar emotional situations." He is illustrating that tragedy continues to lurk amongst us, hidden in plain sight. We are connected to these ancient figures through emotion. No matter how much time separates us, we have never stopped being humans. As such, we will never cease to feel. A tragedy is defined by an outline of events that take place due to the protagonist and his emotions. So we may find ourselves in the same place. A struggle to gain the place you deem you deserve. Inability to accept your lot. Being torn from the image you have built of yourself. All of these are troubles the common man experiences. We all carry fear of losing favor of those around you, becoming hated or losing respect. We self-analyze to a fault, thinking ourselves into inadequacy. Many do regrettable things to climb the ruthless ladder of life to a point they feel deserving of. Mankind is touched by blossoming tragedy everyday that we are still as human as our ancestors.
Miller concludes by calming the fears we may have awakened by realizing the abundance of tragedy in our world. "The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy." Tragedy provides an optimism that humanity is perfectible. It forces us to take a look around us and consider how to pull us from ignorance. Tragedy is inevitable because of the inherent imperfection of man. Nevertheless, we can always be striving for higher.
These views have enlightened me to why we revere the tragic story. It exists within us all. The tragic flaw can touch us at any moment. Tragedy surrounds us, yet without suffocating us in pessimism. We must remain and we must improve.
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