The Tragedy of the Common Man: an Introspective Into Mind of Arthur Miller

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Dylan Grace
4/21/12
Prof. Rindler
EN190
The Tragedy of the Common Man:
An Introspective into Mind of Arthur Miller

“The plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief – optimistic, if you will – in the perfectibility of man. It is time I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time – the heart and spirit of the average man”.-Arthur Miller In the above quote, Arthur Miller suggests that the dramatic human tragedies we have so revered over the past centuries should make way for a more mundane morality tale based on the common man, relevant to the lives of a mid 20th century American audience. Miller enforces this idea in his 1949 play, “Death of a Salesman” where a long-in-the-tooth traveling salesman is stuck walking a thin line between his fading dreams and his aging reality. Miller uses this dilemma, via the ego, to show the tenacity and strength of the common man’s spirit and to demonstrate that his heart is the same if not stronger than of noble men.

It was Shakespeare who first showed us the power of tragedies through his influential works of human drama. Shakespeare’s “King Lear” is a great example of how history has revered the tragedies which exemplify human power, success, celebrity and hubris. However, contrary to Shakespeare, Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman” shows us that the tale of the common man in a modern world is as gripping as any. By portraying the protagonist as the average audience member, Miller supersedes any notion of fiction, with the thought of non-fiction or reality. As a result, Miller accentuates the drama within the play and thus draws more emotion from the audience. These are some of the ways Miller disassociates his tragedy from more stereotypical Shakespearean tragedies.

Throughout Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, there are key points where...
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