Analysis of Tragedy and the Common Man
By: Nathan Roberts
In literature, tragedy is usually expressed as an extremely cataclysmic event that causes the protagonist to fall into despair. According to Arthur Miller in his academic essay, “Tragedy and the Common Man”, tragedy is a factor in life that can happen to everyone from the common man to kings and queens. Miller’s representation of tragedy can be easily compared to “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles and “Nothing Sacred” by George F. Walker through the tragic scenarios that follow each protagonist.
“Oedipus the King” by Sophocles follows the tragic fall of king Oedipus who falls to the terrible will of the gods that he is never able to escape. Although Oedipus himself was a king, Miller’s adaptation of tragedy still applies to the tragedy in this play. In his essay Miller goes into depth on the subject of the hero’s tragic flaw. Miller describes the tragic flaw as a part of one’s character that doesn’t necessarily affect them but can come out in times of difficulty. Oedipus’s tragic flaw was his inability to ignore his pride and unwillingness to listen.
OEDIPUS: Sirrah, what mak'st thou here? Dost thou presume to approach my doors, thou brazen-faced rogue, my murderer and the filcher of my crown? Come, answer this, didst thou detect in me some touch of cowardice or witlessness, that made thee undertake this enterprise? I seemed forsooth too simple to perceive the serpent stealing on me in the dark, or else too weak to scotch it when I saw. This _thou_ art witless seeking to possess without a following or friends the crown, a prize that followers and wealth must win. (530-545). (Sophocles)
This is an example of many points in the play where Oedipus would presume that any accusation against him was a threat to his power and should be ignored, which eventually led to him killing his father and marrying his...
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