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Tragedy in Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman - Essay Example

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Tragedy in Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman People in real life as well as in fictions will maximally expect happy endings. However, creators of fictions could incorporate tragic endings and particularly sketch tragic heroes to make a stronger impact on the readers’ mind…
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Download file to see previous pages Creators would also end the protagonist as a tragic hero as a justification for all the actions committed by him/her. On the whole, tragic endings or tragedies are being created by the authors from time immemorial. Despite being separated by more than a period of two thousand years, the two plays, Oedipus the King by Sophocles and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller have several similarities as both belong to the same genre of tragedy. So, this paper focusing on these two plays will compare how the protagonists in these plays, Oedipus and Willy Loman undergo various phases of tragedy. Setting for the tragedy or Hamartia Willy Loman, the patriarch of the family, lives an insecure and deluding life with his wife Linda Loman and two sons named Biff Loman and Happy Loman. Willy is a traveling salesman, who does not achieve expected success both in his professional as well as in his personal life, thereby ‘setting’ him to become a tragic hero later. As the society of his times was filled with heightened expectations due to the phenomenon of American Dream, Willy not to be left behind wanted to become hugely successful. However, his American Dream can be a misguided one because he wanted to achieve success without putting his best efforts. He was working as a salesman for sizable years, but he failed to achieve the expected sales results. Although, his original love was carpentry, he did not wanted to take it has a profession. He wanted to work only as a salesman, and felt ‘memorable’ to be a failed salesman than a contented carpenter, who did what he loved. Even, when his eldest son, Biff questions his mother, Linda, why his father could accept that he is a failed salesman, and take on the vocation of carpentry, like the grandfather, Willy takes offence to it and counters Biff by stating that “Even your grandfather was better than a carpenter” (Miller 43). Apart from his unsuccessful professional life, personally also he suffered because he was abhorred by his sons especially Biff. As Willy once indulged in an immoral act of non-marital sex with an unknown woman, and as Biff came to know about it, he hated his father. Thus, with Willy Loman experiencing struggles both in his professional and personal ‘spheres’ of life, Hamartia gets initiated or the stage is set for the onset of tragedy. On the other hand, in the play Oedipus Rex, the setting for the onset of tragedy developed through different set of events. Oedipus was born to King Laius of Thebes and Queen Jacosta, but he was given away to the foster parents, because of the fear that the prophecy of he killing his own father could come true. “…was doomed to kill him,” (Sophocles 109). However, that prophecy comes true when he kills King Lauis without knowing that he is his father. That incident further leads to the fulfillment of the second prophecy, as Oedipus solves the Sphinx puzzle and marries the widowed queen, Jocasto, again without knowing that she is his mother, thus becoming the King of Thebes. “Oedipus with the answer, but only so that he may enter the grateful city, be hailed as its hero, and marry its widowed queen” (Smith 93). Although, both the protagonists’ life events moved around their family and profession/kingship, there are certain differences. That is, as discussed above, Willy’s initiation of Hamartia is due to his own mistakes and inefficiencies, while Oedipus’ setting of tragedy seems to be driven by external factors, than him committing mistakes. He did not ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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