Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Comparing the Tragedies of Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Sal

Comparing the Tragedies of Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman The tragedies Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman have strikingly different plots and characters; however, each play shares common elements in its resolution. The events in the plays’ closings derive from a tragic flaw possessed by the protagonist in each play. The downfall of each protagonist is caused by his inability to effectively cope with his tragic flaw. The various similarities in the closing of each play include elements of the plot, the reflection of other characters on the misfortune of the tragic hero, and expression of important themes through the dialogue of the characters. The protagonists of Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman each possess a tragic flaw that ultimately induces their demise. Hamlet is characterized as a hesitant hero. He thoroughly contemplates his options instead of taking action; however, when he does not have the time to consider his alternatives, he acts rashly and impulsively. For example, he did not kill Claudius when he was presented with the opportunity in Act III scene iii. Oedipus’ tragic flaw was his excessive pride, or hubris. He believed that he was flawless and thus maintained the false notion that he was also infallible. Willy Loman was plagued by his enchantment with the ephemeral promises of the American Dream. There are various similarities and differences among the events that occur in the resolutions of the three tragedies, including physical destruction of the protagonist, assumption of the protagonist’s former position by a rival, and suffering caused by disillusionment. The three tragic heroes Hamlet, Oedipus, and Willy Loman are subjected to various forms of physical destruction. Hamlet is slain in a fencing match by a poisoned foil, Oedipus mutilates himself and is exiled from Thebes, and Willy Loman commits suicide by intentionally crashing his car. Another common thread in the resolutions of all three tragedies is that a rival of the tragic hero assumes the responsibilities of the protagonist following his demise. Creon – the man secretly covetous of royal power – becomes the leader of Thebes after Oedipus falls from his position of authority. Fortinbras assumes a position of leadership in Denmark after the death of Claudius and his successors. In Death of a Salesman... ...ine. And when they start not smiling back – that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat and you’re finished† (138). With these words, Charley attributes Willy’s despair to the hardships of his profession. Biff’s comment that his father â€Å"never knew who he was† (138) insinuates that people should strive to discover their true place in life. Willy’s dissatisfaction with his life was a result of his vain attempt to be someone that he was not. The three tragedies Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman have similar resolutions despite their diverse storylines. In each play, the tragic hero suffers from great misfortune that ultimately leads to his downfall. Various plot elements in the closing related to the destruction of the protagonist are shared among the three tragedies. The closing of each play reveals thoughts and feelings of characters regarding the demise of the tragic hero. Also, major themes are expressed through the discussion and action of the characters. Most importantly, the conclusion of each tragedy not only evokes feelings of sympathy but also teaches the audience an important lesson about the human condition.

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