Within the heroic perspective, how is life a game, a drama, or a struggle? Do you find this a helpful way of understanding the challenge of finding meaning in life? How do you see this perspective reflected in the modern world?
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Since this is a subjective question, the student must arrive at his/her own conclusions. Nonetheless, there can be observations made here which may enable these conclusions:
For one thing, it is important to realize that the concept of "hero" in the Greek tradition, varies greatly from contemporary concepts of heroes. For the ancient Greeks, a hero was a human (male usually, but sometimes female) of the past who was endowed with superhuman abilities as a result of having been descended from an immortal god. Nevertheless, they were not paragons of virtue; instead, they were endowed with most of the faults and qualities of their fellow human beings albeit on a grander scale. Yet, despite their mortality, these heroes were objects of cult worship, much like the gods. Thus, the hero was a semi-god.
Despite their supra-human status, the Greek heroes do struggle with issues that are existant [in existence] today in humans. And, much like modern man, they often blame Fate (luck) for their misfortunes, while, in truth, the cause of such destiny has been in their choices, much as Cassius affirms to Brutus in Shakespeare's tragedy of Julius Caesar:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings." (1.2.140-141)
One modern American drama that certainly parallels Greek tragedy is Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize play Death of a Salesman. In this play, the main character Willy Loman, who has spent his life as a salesman, possesses the tragic flaw of hamartia, but his downfall is one of an ordinary man. In fact, one critic writes that Miller's play is a "democratization of the ancient form of tragedy."
Obsessed with becoming a success in terms of the American dream, Loman's downfall emerges from his repeated misconceptions of himself that he is man of greatness that stems from personal charm or popularity. Clearly, this misconception mirrors that of the Greek Oedipus Rex, who also perceived himself as possessive of charisma, wisdom, and great powers and popularity in Thebes.
In his analysis of Death of a Salesman, Professor George Thomas Kuzhivelil observes that
The American Dream is the largely unacknowledged screen in front of which all American writing plays itself out.
Indeed, this observation can well explain the motivations of many in modern society, depending upon the interpretation of what the American Dream is to them. For, the striving for success and happiness gives rise to conflicts, both internal and external as one experiences rewards and disappointments, or as one comes into conflict with others or with economic or social situations. The celebrated director Elia Kazan remarked that without having experienced a great struggle, no person can develop character and achieve greatness. For, without struggles, there is no success, no personal edification, no significance to one's life. As Robert Browning wrote, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for?"
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