Decide what tragedy is through Oedipus Rex and Death of a Salesman. Where are connections in their functions as tragedies?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I feel that both works are tragic in how they show a disintegration of emotional bonds between family members.  At points, this dissolving was brought on by the protagonists, and at others by the external world.  However, one of the tragic elements in both works is how the private realm is filled with so much in way of alienation and a sense of the forlorn.  In supporting this, I would point out to how Oedipus continually pushes away the suggestions from his wife/ mother that pursuing the root of what causes the plague over Thebes will not result in much positive.  He is steadfast in what he wants to do, and Jocasta is marginalized in being able to stop him from doing so.  Linda Loman is much the same in the relationship she has with Willy.  She recognizes that her husband's dreams are closer to delusions.  However, she is incapable of being anything in way of redirecting her husband.  In both dramas, there is an emotional level of tragedy in seeing husbands who cannot reconcile the drive they feel for external definitions for success with the women who end up paying the price for what they do.  Both Sophocles and Miller seem to be constructing tragic figures, doomed to failure in the outside world.  There might be some salvation if either of the protagonists look inward, to the realm of the family and in the institution of marriage.  Yet, they do not, discarding it as secondary to the drive for external success in both settings.  In doing so, both Willy and Oedipus seem to fulfill another condition of tragedy, suffering personal loss in additional to social misalignment.

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