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What is a Modern Tragedy?

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emily garcia

on 11 February 2016

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Transcript of What is a Modern Tragedy?

Definition of "tragedy":
Dictionary: trag·e·dy
a play dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending, especially one concerning the downfall of the main character.
"I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were."
"I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing-his sense of personal dignity.
The underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain his "rightful" position in his society."
"The commonest of men may take on that stature to the extent of his willingness to throw all he has into the contest, the battle to secure his rightful place in the world."
"In the sense of having been initiated by the hero himself, the tale always reveals what has been called his "tragic flaw," a failing that is not peculiar to grand or elevated characters. Nor is it necessarily a weakness."
Walter Lee's tragic flaw was having big dreams but no solid plans on how to achieve them.
A Raisin in the Sun
is a modern tragedy because...
Modern Tragedies
Greek Tragedy Conditions
Shakespearean Tragedy Conditions
Who was Arthur Miller?
Modern Tragedy and
A Raisin in the Sun
According to Miller, older tragedies failed to resonate with people because only the elite starred as protagonists
Modern tragedies are more relatable to the mass audience because the main protagonists are common people
What were some similarities between the two plays we read this year?
Walter Lee and his family are in a constant struggle with trying to find where they belong.
Beneatha wanting to become a doctor, and her struggling with her identity
Mama wanting to move into a predominately white neighbourhood
Walter Lee wanting to quit his day job, and invest in a dream that will make him rich
Tragedy and the Common Man
The idea that a tragedy will always be just another sad story is actually wrong.
Walter wanted to use ALL the money from the life insurance check to invest in a liqour store. He trusted all his faith in Willy Harris to make his life better.
it features common people as the protagonists
the family tries to find their place in society
Walter invests everything he has in order to achieve his dream
Walter has a tragic flaw that leads to the unfortunate events that take place
Born on October 17th, 1915 in Harlem, New York.
Both his parents lost everything in the economic collapse of the 1930s.
Miller was shaped by poverty as he grew up during the Great Depression.
Miller worked in a warehouse in order to earn enough money to attend the University of Michigan, where he began to write plays and found his true passion and talent.
Oedipus Rex
King Lear
Published in 1949
By Arthur Miller
1. Protagonist is an aristocrat
2. Falls from nobilty/ has a change in fortune due to:
fate/ Gods
3. Tragic hero must possess a tragic flaw
4. Tragic hero must have a revelation and express
5. Religion/fate is a prevalent theme
1. Bourgeois protagonist
2. Tragic flaw causes:
conflict/dulaity within hero
fall from grace/change in fortune
3. Force which destroys evil, but simultaneously destroys good
4. Prevailing themes of duality and secularism (new philosophies) vs religion (old ideals)

A tragedy is more optimistic than a comedy

"Death of a Salesman" in 1949 secured Miller's reputation as one of the nation's foremost playwrights.
Death of a Salesman is a mixture the tradition of social realism that informs most of Miller's work, where a victim is obsessed with success, and ends up being haunted with a sense of failure.
“The Crucible” in 1953 deals with extraordinary tragedy in ordinary lives, expanded Miller’s voice and his concern for the physical and psychological well being of the working class.

Also in 1956, Miller married actress Marilyn Monroe but divorced in 1961
After divorcing Monroe, Miller wed Ingeborg Morath, to whom he remained married until his death in 2005
Walter Lee is the
common man
found in the play.
He works to support his family
He struggles financially
Walter has dreams and aspirations
Significant plays by Arthur miller
“ in truth tragedy implies more optimism in its author than does comedy, and that its final result ought to be the reinforcement of the onlooker's brightest opinions of the human animal”
Tragedy is inherently optimistic.
Walter coming into his manhood

Walter redeems himself from his hubris and shows the full potential of what humans can be against adverse circumstances
Full transcript