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In: Historical Events

Submitted By pyancey2005
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Title The properties and characteristics that constitute a tragedy have evolved since the time of the Greeks. Recently, in the 20th century, Arthur Miller published an essay that gives a modern definition of what a tragedy is and lists the properties and characteristics that a play must contain to actually be considered a tragedy. Miller states that a play is recognized as a tragedy when it presents a character that is willing to “lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing–his sense of personal dignity.” This character is trying to find his “‘rightful’ position in society,” but is eventually destroyed by shame that is caused by what is perceived as unfair treatment. Therefore, according to Miller, tragedy is the consequence of a man’s need to evaluate himself fairly (Miller “Tragedy”). The three dramas being evaluated, The Tragedy of Othello, Oedipus Rex, and Death of a Salesman, all fit this definition of a tragedy to some degree. The degree to which the parameters of dramatic tragedy are fulfilled in each play increases from The Tragedy of Othello to Oedipus Rex to Death of a Salesman. Out of the plays being analyzed, The Tragedy of Othello is the least tragic of the three. Othello, as a character, is a tragic hero that does actually give his own life in order to secure his sense of personal dignity (Shakespeare 1542). Othello feels that, despite the influence of Iago, he himself caused Desdemona's death as well as much of the other damage and tragedy that has occurred, and the only way to redeem his dignity is by killing himself. On the other hand, though, Othello had never really lost his rightful position in society, so the tragic events that occur are not implicated by shame or indignation. Instead, the tragic events that occur are implicated by trickery and dishonesty from one character and the foolishness and gullibility of other...

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