Arthur Miller

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Tragedy And The Common Man Summary

In Miller's essay "Tragedy and the Common Man," what are his strongest points that the common man is a suitable subject for tragedy?

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Near the beginning of his essay, Miller posits:

"... if the exaltation of tragic action were truly a property of the high-bred character alone, it is inconceivable that the mass of mankind should cherish tragedy above all other forms..."

This is a strong point about why people like to read tragedies and view tragic plays. What Miller means is that high-bred characters, royalty, nobles, the rich, and others of "esteemed" social standing do not have a monopoly on experiencing the catharsis provided by the unfolding of a tragedy. Into each life some rain must fall, regardless of whether one is a king or a "commoner." The common man is a suitable subject for a tragedy because he will inevitably experience one—his journey will (arguably) be more resonant with an audience than that of a figure unlike oneself.

As he ends the essay, Miller concludes: 

"In them [tragedies], and in them alone, lies the belief-optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man."

He draws the distinction that pathos...

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