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Hamlet Tragedy

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Hamlet Essay
Tragedies commonly involve disasters, horrible mishaps and death. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that a tragedy must have action which is pushed along by the character flaw of a “great” man. This idea of a “great” man or a person of high ranking being the protagonist in a tragedy is perpetuated in all of Shakespeare’s work. This leaves to speculate on the average person. The average person is not completely safe from the misery of tragedy. A supporting character is just as likely as any main character to experience tragedy. According to Arthur Miller, the “common” person is just as suitable for tragedy as any “great” person. The ideas of Aristotle and Miller contrast each other however both elements are noticeable in the play Hamlet. When a “great person” or the main character goes through a tragedy, it is rather evident. Ophelia and her father Polonius are considered “common” characters in the play that also experience great tragedy. In Miller’s essay, he outlines three main aspects that a “common” person would exhibit in a tragedy which makes their circumstances tragic. Firstly is the presence of a character that is ready to lay down their life to secure their personal sense of dignity. Next is the fear of being displaced and torn away from ones chosen image of their self. Lastly is being capable of victory. Ophelia and Polonius have chosen images of themselves and what their lives should be like and are willing to lay down their lives for their dignity but Ophelia’s circumstances are far more tragic than Polonius’ because she has no chance of victory. Ophelia lives her entire life under the control of her father and brother, Laertes, and is constantly being told what she can and cannot do. She falls in love with Hamlet but due to the discrimination against women in her time period, she has no choice but to obey her father’s commands....

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