29 Apr 2013

A View from the Bridge: Tragedy and the Common Man, Arthur Miller Essay Short Version

Did you know... Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe?

'Tragedy and the Common Man' is an article written by Arthur Miller in which he explains what he was trying to do in his play, A View from the Bridge. In the essay (which is a bit complicated), Miller explains his view of:
what is tragedy?
- what is a tragic hero?
- can an ordinary person be a tragic hero? 

Miller Challenges Traditional Views of Tragedy
Miller says, 'in this age few tragedies are written'. He argues that tragedy is not 'fit only' for 'kings' but it can focus on 'the common man' too. He appeals to modern psychiatry, where problems like the 'Oedipus' complex 'apply to everyone'. He focuses on the inner world of 'emotional situations'.

Miller says a true tragedy is where a character is willing to die for 'his sense of personal dignity' - 'to gain his "rightful" position in his society.'

On the Tragic Hero
'Sometimes [the tragic hero] is one who has been displaced [cast out] from it [society]'
Sometimes the tragic hero 'seeks to attain it [his rightful place in society] for the first time'

On the Tragic Flaw
'The [tragic] flaw [is the main character's] inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he [sees as] a challenge to his dignity, his image of his rightful status. Only the passive, only those who accept their lot without active retaliation, are "flawless."'

What is Tragedy?
Tragedy is 'being torn away from our chosen image of what or who we are in this world.'

'The commonest of men may take on [the] stature [of the Tragic hero] to the extent of his willingness to throw all he has into the contest, the battle to secure his rightful place in his world.'

Tragedy should give us the 'brightest opinions of the human anima.' It should show 'the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity. The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy.'

* Arthur Miller, "Tragedy and the Common Man," from The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller (Viking Press, 1978) pp. 3-7. Copyright 1949, Copyright 0 renewed 1977 by Arthur Miller. Reprint(by permission of Viking Penguin, Inc. All rights reserved.
from Robert W. Corrigan. Tragedy: Vision and Form. 2nd ed. New York: Harper, 1981.

Get the complete text of Arthur Miller, Tragedy and the Common Man here.*

The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post.