In the essay “Tragedy and the Common Man,” Arthur Miller claims that despite Aristotle’s concept of the tragic hero.common man “ is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as...

In the essay “Tragedy and the Common Man,” Arthur Miller claims that despite Aristotle’s concept of the tragic hero.

common man “ is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were.”

what does this mean exactly? I know that Aristotle thought that only men of noble birth could be a hero...but what does the tragedy part have to do with anything as said in millers statement?

 

I have to use the play The Crucible to agree or refute this statement.

Asked on by klm8

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

Posted on

Part of what underscores Miller's statement is the idea that tragedy and drama are not limited to the conception of gods and kings.  When one thinks of the Greek conception of drama, there is a preponderance of focus on the gods and the highest of royalty.  Battles are fought where divinity is seen along side of kings and queens.  The battle of Troy was fought between Gods and human royalty, while Sophocles' depiction concerned Kings like Oedipus and Creon.  There seemed to be little in the way or need of ordinary people.  Artists like Miller sought to change this by emphasizing the dramatic in the condition of ordinary people.  Wily, in Miller's Death of a Salesman, is a regular guy who is faced with the tragic condition of being crushed under the weight of his dreams, the logical result of seeking to appropriate the world in accordance to his own subjectivity.  In The Crucible, figures like John Proctor and Giles Corey are regular people.  They are not kings nor are they gods.  They do not command armies and are not responsible for the fate of nations.  Yet, within them the reader sees examples of superhero qualities as they represent the essence of the tragic hero set against the backdrop of times that take a toll on the best qualities of human beings.  It is in these settings where the reader sees tragic conditions of people who might not be "of noble birth," but act in the highest of nobility in examples of Proctor's refusal to speak lies and Corey's condemnation of a social order with the last words of "More weight."

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

He means it does not only have to be those of royal status that is affected. Most plays have to have the tragic hero of some sort of royalty. For example, Oedipus is of royal birth and ends up returning to his homeland and committing the crime. Hamlet is a prince and although he is not necessarily THE tragic hero, he has some aspects of a tragic hero. However, the tragic hero archetype can be applied to those who are normal beings as well, normal everyday people living their life, which is what he is conveying. 

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