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Death of a Salesman and a Streetcar Named Desire How Far Are They Tragic in a Classical Sense

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Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar named Desire how far they tragic in a classical sense?

Both “Death of a Salesman” and “A Streetcar named Desire” have tragic elements to them. Yet many critics say that both plays deviate too far from Aristotle’s foundations of what a tragedy should be. For example neither character is in an “elevated position”, which Aristotle says is vital for a tragic hero as it gives the character a “height” to fall from. Willy and Blanche aren’t royal or particularly high class, although Blanche believes herself to be a Southern Belle and portrays that image publically there is evidence that she isn’t a Southern Belle, Willy is a working class salesman who would be consider a “common man”. Both characters are relativity common people, however in Miller’s “Tragedy and a Common man” he says that he believes “a common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were.” Miller goes on to say that the “tragic feeling is evoke in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down their life… to secure… their sense of personal dignity”. For Willy this is to be known as a salesman, He bases his goals for the American Dream, which is flawed as it forever leaves him wanting more as a person. He bases his end goal on Dave Singleman who has people from all America come to his funeral; Willy believes that he is the embodiment of the American dream. Aristotle says in his Poetics, that tragedy represents men as better than they are. The purpose of tragedy was to create pity and fear in the audience. This was achieved by showing the audience that we feared and a character that deserved our pity for undergoing it. It could be argued that “Death of a Salesman” conforms to this pattern. In Act 1 might be used to inspire horror and fear as Willy’s sad state is made abundantly clear, and Act 2 could insight pity...

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