A comparison essay between Shakespeare's,Hamlet, and Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman, on the issue of tragedy.

Essay by Trix13High School, 12th gradeA+, January 2003

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The term, tragedy, by dictionary definition, can be defined as "A story with a sad or unhappy ending." (Arthur Miller, Tragedy and the Common Man). Although there is some truth to this, the true definition of tragedy goes much deeper. The notion of tragedy has been a part of English literature since the beginning of the Classical times. Tragedy is available in almost all literary forms, such as, novels, play wrights, film, etc. Shakespeare, for example, has written numerous world renowned tragedies since the turn of the seventeenth century. Four centuries later, with all the changes to the world of literature, tragedy continues to prevail, as a popular form of literature. Through comparing and contrasting William Shakespeare's, Hamlet, with Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman, it is clear that tragedy continues to have many of the same features as it did so long ago and it continues to appeal to audiences today.

This is demonstrated through the tragic hero, the hero's tragic flaw, and the catharsis. With these three elements included, a more exact definition of tragedy is defined by Aristotle as, '...the imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude, in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play...through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions." (Aristotle, The Poetics).

Although each and every tragedy is slightly different or even quite dissimilar, every true tragedy includes the presence of a tragic hero. The tragic hero can be defined as "man as both beautiful and terrible" (Class notes, Tragedy and The Tragic Hero). It is most often the hero's unjustified life which turns his story into a tragedy. The tragic hero has been a critical role since the beginning...