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Tragedy, Oedipus the King

We here the word 'tragedy' in news articles and daily conversations but what is tragedy? To some people it could be a common man such as Willy Loman, from Death of a Salesman or to others it would be mighty Oedipus, from Oedipus. Who does our society consider in ideal tragic model? Each person's viewpoint differs based on his own personal experiences with society. A common man is just as strong a tragic model as a great man because the common man suffers as much or even more than a great man. Miller supports this idea when he says, "it is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and follow it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time--the heart and spirit of the average man." In these two plays we ponder upon the ideas of which of these two characters is more tragic a man. When examining the tragic elements of each play we see neither man is a more perfect tragic model than the other.

Fate and free will were powerful life forces for both character. Oedipus was tragically doomed by fate at birth when it was foretold by Apollo that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus felt that he could escape his fate, relaying his own free will. However, his choices led him directly to his fate. In Willy's world, fate was not predetermined by the gods but by society. He was doomed to failure to reach his dreams of being a successful and well-liked salesman because he could not be accepted the way he was. He tried to improve his life through hard work and lies, but the lies trap him in the end. He made as much money in the end of his job as he did when he started because he believed his own lies as did his family, only for awhile. He was no further ahead at the end than when he began his career. Linda clearly shows this when she says, "A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man. He works for a company thirty-six years this Marh, opens up unheard-of territories to their trademark, and now in his...
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