Unseen Tragedy and the Common Character
Shakespeare is known for his deep understanding of human nature in the sense of diverse feelings, emotions, and passions in both positive and negative ways. I believe that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play based fully around the tragedy of not only the key character Hamlet, but also other characters with a lower status such as: Ophelia; Hamlet’s love interest, Gertrude; Hamlet’s grief driven mother, and Laertes; Ophelia’s exceedingly noble brother. In Arthur Miller’s Tragedy and the Common Man his thesis in this essay is that, the common man is as able to experience tragedy to the greatest extreme, equal to the level of the highest of kings and noblemen. This ties in with Shakespeare’s Hamlet showing that not only Hamlet, even being the title character of the play and holding such a high status in the kingdom is the only individual in the play to experience tragedy in his life. Miller believes that the sense of tragedy comes into being when a character is willing to sacrifice all they have, and lay it on the line, to preserve one thing: “his sense of personal dignity” (Miller). In this case it occurs when people try to regain their “rightful” position in the community or at other moments when people are trying to reach that position for the first time. Therefore tragedy comes when a man or woman completely and utterly tries to portray and evaluate themselves fairly. This is the fatal flaw in these characters; the fact that unlike the rest of us, who accept our position in society without retaliation, they strike out and are willing to lose everything in the battle against what they think is a challenge to their dignity, and their own self-rightful status. Unfortunately they find themselves in an unchangeable environment, and in a losing battle against mankind. The characters in Hamlet, hanging at a lower stature then the main character, the viewer may feel some have experienced greater tragedies than Hamlet himself....
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