Comparing Tragedy In Oedipus Rex And Death Of A Salesman

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(1050) A Drama Analysis of the Evolution and Demise of the Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Death of a Salesman

The origins of dramatic tragedy in ancient Greece define a time when heroic figures were killed or removed from power due to the imposition of fate in their life. The tradition of the Greek tragedy is often seen in the example of the downfall of the heroic figure, Oedipus, in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. The “tragedy” of Oedipus is that he is the heroic savior of Thebes because he had solved the riddle of the Sphinx, which gave him the power to be king. This heroic behavior is part of the sadness and injustice that fate imposes on heroic figures, which illustrates the seemingly merciless cruelty in the death and destruction of
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Willy Loman is a salesman that only thinks about his own pride, economic status, and profit margins as a gauge of success. In this manner, Loman is not a hero by any means, but a man that continually uses his family and his own business-minded motivations to present the false veneer of achieving wealth. For instance, Loman continually puts pressure on his son, Biff, to get a collegiate in order to achieve the financial success he had not achieved in his own life: “You’ll retire me for life on seventy goddamn dollars a week?” (Miller 28). This type of financial pressure is what eventually drives Loman to lose the love of his wife and his sons. More so, Loman is conscious of the fact that he has been cheating on his wife for many years, which Biff soon discovers. This is part of the “modern drama” of a non-heroic character that falls due to his ignoble desire for fame and wealth as part of the fictional myth of the American Dream. In Miller’s play, Loman has nothing in common with the virtuous and noble heroic figure of Oedipus and hamlet, since he does not possess an intrinsic goodness in his character. More importantly, Loman is an example of the extreme selfishness and profiteering mentality of an American businessperson that has lost all moral, ethical, and spiritual principles. In this way, the lack of a definable hero is one reason why Death of a Salesman is not a tragedy, but a modern drama that reveals the sadness, loss, and unethical/immoral aspects of a man that has destroyed his family due to believing in the materialistic lifestyle of the American Dream. This is part of the final evolution of the Greek tragedy in Oedipus Rex and Hamlet, which had devolved the heroic tradition in the character of Wily Loman in Death of a Salesman in the modern 20th century modern

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