According to Miller, in his essay "Tragedy and the Common Man", for what goal does the tragic hero/heroine struggle?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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According to Arthur Miller in his essay, "Tragedy and the Common Man," the tragic hero/heroine struggles for one main goal:

the underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain his "rightful" position in his society.

In the essay, Miller uses very historically famous literary characters to prove his point. Characters such as Hamlet, Medea, and Macbeth are simply struggling to find their "rightful position in his [or her] society." Miller seems very impressed regarding the fact that some characters, and people, will not think twice about laying their life down to secure only one thing in life: "his [or her] sense of personal dignity."

To further examine this, Miller suggests that the tragic flaw is the one thing which helps the tragic hero/heroine to find their "rightful" position in society. Hamartia (Latin for tragic flaw) is of the utmost importance in one's search for personal dignity given that only those who are passive, and accept their life as it is, can be considered "perfect." Therefore, the goal to obtain a rightful and dignified position in society is simply fueled by one's inability to be perfect. Therefore, one will continue to push forward, sometimes to death, to insure that they reach their ultimate goal: their rightful position in society.


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