Are Willy Loman and Oedipus Rex true tragic heroes?

The tragic hero needs to be the type of hero in whom we can all see ourselves, and whose battle we identify with. Neither Oedipus nor Willy is such a character: both are so determined on following what is shown to be a plainly mistaken path of action that we can not share in their suffering or misfortune. I do not think that we can not see or identify with either Willy or Oedipus’ character.

I believe that both characters reveal both the very best and worst elements of humanity. Oedipus specifically has exceptional qualities that we as an audience would aspire to.

It is fascinating to note the opening: it is the only enduring Sophocles’ play to open with such a mass significant scene. This was more common in dramatists such as Aeschylus’ work. Sophocles’ openings were generally more peaceful and private. The scene opens with Oedipus resolving Thebes, and reveals a paternalistic side to Oedipus. First of all, the staging would have assisted to boost this paternalism– Oedipus is on the phase, raised above the orchestra where the chorus would stand, speaking down to them dominating the area.

He refers to Thebes as ‘My children’ which suggests that although he is an authority figure, he is concerned about his individuals, and is caring. It is rare in Greek tragedy for rulers to address their individuals in this method. In the rest of his opening speech Oedipus is comforting and devoted. A modern audience would specifically admire Oedipus for this, and this would assist us relate to Oedipus. The ancient Greeks would likewise have actually compared him to their fantastic, grand, callous however democratic leader Pericles– which would have increased their identification.

Oedipus likewise has a degree of compassion: ‘You suffer; yet, though ill, not one of you Suffers an illness half as fantastic as my own’ This empathy shows a gentle caring side regardless of his raised status he is not different from his people. This suggests that although Oedipus is treated nearly god-like, he can identify with the typical individual. This assists with the audience’s identification with Oedipus. Towards completion the audience see Oedipus’ large capability for love and affection– even after his downfall. He loves his daughers: ‘However my dissatisfied children, my 2 girls,

Whose chairs were constantly set next to my own’ This beautiful insight into the relationship between Oedipus and his daughters reveals Sophocles’ astonishing capability to reveal emotion, and would interest the audience, we can all relate to familial love. Oedipus is determined in his battle, and as an audience we relate to this– as typical average humans we need to be figured out in order to conquer struggles in life. He constantly struggles to find the fact of his identity: ‘Stop! Who were they? Who were my moms and dads? Tell me! ‘

I must ask: how is wanting to know the reality surrounding a mysterious background considered as ‘determined’? Certainly that is what everybody pursues in life is the ancient Greek aphorism: Know Thyself. Every common individual can relate to this; it is not restricted to the great and mighty. Oedipus’ language here is exclamatory and communicates a note of desperation– the audience can obtain a sense of his real burning desire to understand himself. Oedipus also has characteristics in himself that we can identity with– not due to the fact that they are admirable, but because they are flaws, which all of mankind have.

The audience can see a glimpse of arrogance and vanity, when he says ‘Whose popularity is understood to all’ however to contemporary Greeks pride was not at all a weak point. However, to a modern-day audience, Oedipus would appear conceited here, and this possibly shows a more uninviting side to humanity. It starts to emerge that Oedipus has an unrelenting quest for understanding, and is no pushover: ‘However if you keep quiet, if any man Fearing for self or buddy shall disobey me’ The audience glances of how restless and curious Oedipus in fact is, as he positions a fast fire of concerns towards Creon, e. g.: ‘Where was he murdered?

In the palace here? Or in the nation? Or was he abroad? This might perhaps supply a good argument for the above declaration– that Oedipus is ‘determined’ on following this mistaken course of action. Nevertheless, I feel that everyone at some point is figured out to follow something incorrect, and it is how they handle their error that really identifies their heroism. This is what the above statement ignores; the terrible hero isn’t determined by the events leading to their downfall, but more so how they react to these events. There is a marked change in Oedipus, his tone changes one of irritability: ‘Why, what is this?

Why are you so despondent’. Throughout the quick discussion with Teiresias the audience are revealed a less controlled Oedipus: ‘But to keep your knowledge! This is wrong Disloyal to the city of your birth.’ There is a repeating of negatives here, and a critical accusatory tone. Oedipus is now more exclamatory ‘You bad guy! There is a consistent questioning by Oedipus, and the circulation of speech between the characters is more fragmented and jagged than previously. This is achieved by the usage of many hyphens and short sentences: ‘You do not understand- therefore I am the villain! This once again develops a much more disorderly and less regulated side to Oedipus– he is not ideal which I actually feel assists us to empathise with him, and as a result are more able to share in his bad luck. Teiresias appears to attempt and stop Oedipus’ misguided path of action in the exact same method that Biff attempts to stop Willy ‘I am not a leader of males, Willy, and neither are you’– however both Oedipus and Willy are too strong of characters to be swayed. ‘This criminal offense was planned and performed by you’ which reveals the irrational side to his character, and the basic absurdness of all of it.

I think Oedipus’ anger is pardonable with Thebes in fantastic threat; he can not get to the core of the secret when Teiresias declines to speak. Also, the rejection is incriminating; and it was not unidentified for a king to be outlined against, so I might argue that Oedipus is not entirely unreasonable. Greeks were accustomed to taking the oracle’s words with a grain of salt, the oracle had not supported Athens in either the Persian or Peloponnesian War, therefore I think a modern audience would have the ability to identify more with Oedipus at this point, and we may not see much Oedipus in ourselves, The principle of oracles is extremely foreign to us.

There are nevertheless, some parts of the play were we can not share or identify with Oedipus’ suffering– merely due to the fact that it is up until now eliminated from what we understand. For instance, Oedipus’ downfall is extremely intense. The language and images in describing this dreadful failure is rich and expressive: ‘Showers of black rain and blood-red hail together’ is stated by the messenger in describing how Oedipus has actually blinded himself; he also mentions the ‘typical storm’ of the couple. Oedipus also despairs ‘Oh cloud of darkness abominable. This graphic storm metaphor is used extensively throughout the play, and communicates to the audience the catastrophic disharmony in between guy and nature brought on by mayhem in the royal home of Thebes. The Greeks had an unsafe liberty in their open society– which might possibly be a reason Oedipus is so ‘hell bent’ on following this incorrect course. Each person is un-accommodated and alone– with absolutely nothing to restrict him. It adds special terror to the Greek terrible vision– we can see from the disastrous failure of Oedipus that the gods were unpredictable– no Greeks anticipated ideal justice from them.

In contemporary society, the majority of people trust the goodness of their God and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. From this perspective I feel that a modern audience might maybe not share a lot in Oedipus’ suffering, due to the fact that they don’t expect it. But in his failure we likewise see strength in Oedipus– and this is where we feel relieved or uplifted, and the conclusion of the catharsis. When Oedipus returns to the stage blinded, the audience know that he has travelled through the dark night of the soul and has actually made it through the worst.

At this phase Oedipus signs up with the chorus in a lyrical exchange, a type of duet that begins with a protest of discomfort and suffering ‘Alas! alas! and concern for my suffering’. In joining the chorus in tune meter, he reveals with a brand-new level of feeling and compassion with humankind. This is in plain contrast to his previous commanding range and he can now identify and stand beside mere mortal male– which he is himself. I believe this is one of the most fundamental parts of the have fun with regards to Oedipus existing as a hero.

We can identify with him because even if he did pursue a ‘hell-bent’ course he made it out alive– and can now empathise with the rest of humanity. An awful hero should come across a disaster– otherwise they are not brave, and I certainly can say Oedipus encounters a catastrophe. Oedipus does not flinch or conceal away from what he has dome– he speaks plainly ‘And she that bore me has borne too my kids’. This admittance and nerve reveals the endurance of the human spirit, Oedipus goes beyond suffering. The audience will feel a degree of optimism for humans– all is not lost in Oedipus Tyrannus.

Oedipus, unlike previously, now accepts his destiny ‘My fate must take the course it will’ and accepts it quietly and calmly. The audience do not see the typical self-pity of the lead character in this tragedy unlike others– e. g. Lear in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Oedipus remains a tower of strength. Oedipus here highlights the very best qualities found in people. Aristotle stated that it is the quality of the hero’s reaction to the peripeteia and the way in which he challenges it that determines his vital worth as an awful hero and provides him supreme terrible status.

Oedipus, in coming through the dark night of the soul, challenges his fate with nerve and bravery. This is echoed in Willy Loman, who never ever gives up his dream of success for him or his child Biff. To indicate that Oedipus is on a hell-bent path suggests that fate has victimised him. I think this is not real– Oedipus might have left the pester in Thebes, he could have left the murder of Laius un-investigated and he could have not pushed Teiresias or the rancher for the fact. Nevertheless, his piety, justice, and desire for knowledge meant that he must.

And thus it is his character that has actually caused the disaster– his good and bad qualities– his human qualities– and so hence I find that we do share his suffering and misfortune. Willy is an item of the positive post war society, and he has a real burning desire to sell and succeed: ‘Goddammit, I might sell them!’ This is admirable, and shows an iron determination along with jubilant enthusiasm in Willy’s character, therefore one could argue that like Oedipus’ iron determination, Willy has elements in his character that emphasize the best in humanity.

He has a genuine sense of competition, and acknowledges that the ‘competition is maddening!’ Willy doesn’t accept this competition with defeat– he presses on– he even mentions to Biff: ‘Never ever leave a task till you’re finished’. I do not see how aiming till the very end, regardless of how successful you remain in financial terms, is considered ‘determined’. Willy likes his household: ‘The man who never ever worked a day however for your benefit’ and I feel that the audience would absolutely share in his suffering and bad luck– countless people today make every effort to offer their households.

Willy is an admirable in his determination for success for his family: ‘I get the sensation that I’ll never ever sell anything once again, that I will not make a living for you, or a service for the kids’. The audience feel a sense of pathos, Willy is striving for a better life for his family, and his struggle is against a magnificent and powerful force, that eventually leads to his death– quite like the gods in Oedipus Tyrannus. Like Oedipus, although he takes care of his household deeply, his drive to preserve his personal dignity and honour surpasses their need, and this might maybe discuss why he picks to eliminate himself– leaving Linda with nothing.

External forces such as consumerism also shape Willy’s mindset, and would have affected countless people in that duration in America. Consumerism was a significant force in the late forties, with families having more non reusable earnings and industry and economy thriving, consumer products were churning out faster than ever before to fulfill the need. This is demonstrated in Death of a Salesperson: ‘there’s nine-sixty for the washing-machine. And for the vacuum cleaner there’s three and a half’ speaks Linda in Act One, and Willy laments how ‘we should’ve purchased a well-advertised maker’.

Arthur Miller denounces consumerism through Willy: ‘When in my life I want to own something outright prior to it’s broken’. A contemporary audience should have the ability to relate to this, that Willy has an up-hill struggle against a corrupt society. Willy’s incorrect course is not entirely his own doing, however the above statement does rule out these external factors in forming Willy’s destiny. Willy lies unthinkingly– it is almost like an automatic reaction.

The audience can see though; Willy’s later hesitance, stuttering and pauses ‘Well, I– I did about a hundred and eighty-gross in Providence’ showing the severe discrepancy between his dreams and his truth. This shows his insecurities behind the blowing ‘I’m fat. I’m really– absurd to take a look at, Linda’. These poignant moments show the deep-seated insecurities within Willy– and I believe the audience will be able to relate to Willy at these times– and sympathise with him. Although Willy may be deluded and lie unthinkingly, we can see that he is not entirely deluded though, and in this odd metaphor ‘The woods are burning! Willy is realising that his dreams are failing. This is juxtaposed with the realist vernacular that happens throughout the play, and suggests this line is of great significance– that Willy is aware that his course is mistaken. Nevertheless, it recommends that at this phase, he should continue to follow it to retain a sense of individual self-respect. This reveals the intricacy of Willy’s decisions, and I feel the above quote trivialises them rather. Willy is exhausted and tired– this is explained in the stage instructions: ‘Even, as he crosses the phase to the entrance of the house, his fatigue is apparent.

He unlocks the door, comes into the cooking area, and thankfully lets his concern down’. This staging assists to enhance the realism of Willy’s character, and the audience can see visually in addition to from the dialogue this man’s fatigue. This extremely humanistic portrayal of Willy would strike a note with the audience, and I feel that we can share in his suffering, and that he is not following this mistaken path for minor factors– he really wishes to be much better. We can also see in Willy the worst in ourselves– this man has lots of defects.

There are no efforts to idealise Willy– he is perhaps an anti-hero, and Arthur Miller specifies that this tragic process is ‘not beyond the common man’. As an audience, we must be able to relate to Willy’s suffering and misery much more than Oedipus’, as it is not up until now removed from our own selves. Willy can be impolite and dismissive ‘Don’t be an insect Bernard! What an anaemic’, his language here being repulsive and childish. He can likewise be intensely upset at individuals who love him– he is seen on phase as ‘exploding at her’ (Linda).

He likewise betrays Linda’s trust in his affair with the woman– which, in memory time– comes back to haunt him:’ [The WOMAN’S laugh is heard.] Willy: Stop talking! Willy’s interior is explored through the use of memory time. Willy often goes back into episodes of memory time when truth ends up being too tough to bear. From a mental point of view, it reveals that Willy is perhaps trying to repress the discomfort he is feeling. This makes it possible for the audience to see a more rounded view of Willy’s scenario, and we are revealed his mental suffering graphically, which increases our compassion for this character.

The staging in Oedipus Tyrannus is much simpler and relies mostly on the dialogue– therefore a contemporary audience may not be able to determine as much with Oedipus, as we do not see such detail into his mind. Other characters likewise highlight Willy’s suffering; Linda states ‘He’s been trying to kill himself’. Is Willy finally giving in to his failure? We see nevertheless, later on in the play, that his efforts to eliminate himself are not because he is confessing failure, but to gain i ?? 20,000 in life insurance in order for Biff to become effective: ‘It’s twenty thousand dollars on the barrelhead.

Ensured, gilt-edged, you understand?’ he tells Ben in a fictional episode. Ben utilizes the sinister metaphor: ‘The jungle is dark however loaded with diamonds, Willy’ to describe Willy’s suicide. This is possibly a point in the play were I do concur with the expressed view ‘hell-bent’ on following an incorrect path. Willy has such determination that he will end his own life to protect some sort of success. I feel that here the audience would discover it difficult to relate to this– most of us would never go this far, and I believe most of us would realise how success is not the most essential thing in life.

For Willy though, it is what he has based his whole life on, and like Oedipus, he wishes to preserve that honour. Miller states that the terrible feeling is evoked in us when we remain in the existence of a character who is ready to set his life, if requirement be, to protect one thing– his sense of individual self-respect’. This completely describes Willy, therefore, even if we can not perhaps determine particularly with his battle, we are still in the presence of a terrible hero. We could ask however, does Willy require to set his life for his personal self-respect?

It does not matter what we believe, since for Willy, this is the only method to. I feel that Willy’s course is definitely more determined than Oedipus’ in that Willy never gains self-knowledge or approaches an anagnorisis of what he genuinely is, Biff sadly states in the Requiem ‘He never knew who he was’. Whereas Willy passes away possibly fruitless, Oedipus makes it through the dark night of the soul, and accepts his fate. This might be why audiences quicker see Oedipus as an awful hero whom we can see the very best and worst of ourselves in.

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