The Most Tragic Of Heroes Essay

1039 words - 5 pages

Tragedy, like comedy, is in the eyes of the beholder and what makes a particular fictional character more tragic than another can be argued until the end of time. However, despite this, it seems that an undeniable part of what makes a character tragic is their ability to save themselves from their predicament but, for whatever reason, refuse to do so, thus damning themselves to their wretched fate. Likewise, the more obvious this ability, the more control that a character has over their fate, the more tragic their eventual downfall. Moreover, coupled with the preventable nature of the character’s tragic fate, is this fate’s unpredictability, which causes the audience to, even until the very ...view middle of the document...

Another important aspect of tragedy is the failure of the main character’s death to leave a lasting impact on society. Moreover, Macbeth, when compared to Willy and Gatsby, fails in this regard as his death at the hands of Macduff while defending his ill-gotten kingship will ensure him a definite place in his country’s history and culture, albeit as a tyrant. Willy and Gatsby, however, fare far better in this regard, as their deaths both fail to leave a lasting impact on society as a whole. Yet, Willy, despite treated to the same pitifully small funeral as Gatsby, was “never anything but a hard- working drummer who landed in the ash can like all the rest of them” (Miller 132) and never had the renown that would garner him a funeral attendance that extended beyond his close friends and family. Gatsby, however, was a millionaire who through grand parties to which individuals flocked to by the hundreds, thus making it ever the more tragic when, despite being the kind of individual whom Willy Loman would have looked on with great reverence, he’s death still ended up being completely irrelevant to all those but Nick and a few others.
Finally, the most essential feature of tragedy is the tragic character’s ability to save himself from his predicament. Furthermore, Macbeth starts to severely lack this feature when he commits the murder of King Duncan early in the play since this act forces him into a situation where he either continue on his tragic course or face the rule of the law, a surly fatal choice. Similarly, Willy, while not pushed to his future actions by the threat of legal punishment, also lacks this important feature due to his mental state. All throughout the play Willy exhibits symptoms of dementia such as mood swings, forgetfulness, and hallucinations, particularly of his dead brother, Ben, thus coming across as less of a tragic...

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