Analysis of veiwpoints on tragedy
The question of what defines tragedy has been an issue addressed by several different literary minds since the day of Aristotle, the first person to define tragedy. When Aristotle first defined tragedy he believed tragedy was something reserved for a person of noble stature. He said this person was eventually brought down by a tragic flaw, hence the term tragedy. Robert Silverberg agrees with Aristotle’s views on tragedy, but other authors don’t accept Aristotle’s view so easily. Arthur Miller for example Believes any common man can be tragic, not just the nobility. And Richard Sewall, takes a view that’s a bit different all together.
Aristotle was, as far as we know, the first person to define tragedy, and his definition has been forced down school kid’s throats year after year ever since. Aristotle said a hero was a person of noble stature that was good, but far from perfect. A tragic flaw in the person’s character then led to misfortune that they didn’t completely deserve, and eventually the character’s complete downfall. Aristotle said that the character accepted his fate, and that it wasn’t all bad. Aristotle’s view that the character’s misfortune was not fully deserved, but that the character was responsible for their downfall seems slightly hypocritical, but who am I to criticize Aristotle’s opinions.
Robert Silverberg describes a tragic character as, “a man (or sometimes a woman) of great capability and attainment and ambition, who attempts great things and ultimately fails in his attempt, overreaching himself and loosing all because of some inherent fundamental flaw in his character” (Silverberg, 6). Robert Silverberg’s opinion of tragedy completely coincides with Aristotle. He doesn’t form any new opinions, and his lack of creativity and originality really makes his article “Roger and John” undeserving of mention in this paper.
Of the four opinions reviewed here I like Arthur Miller’s the most. In Miller’s “Tragedy and the Common Man” Miller states, “I believe that common people are as apt subjects for tragedy in its highest sense as monarchs are” (Miller, 16). While the others who have written their own definition have reserved tragedy for the noble, I like the fact that Miller doesn’t feel that tragedy is something too good for the ordinary man. He defines tragic characters as people, “who are ready to lay down their lives, if need be, to secure one thing – their sense of personal dignity” (Miller, 16). Miller also believes that the character is not brought down by a tragic flaw of their own,...