Tragedy is one thing in life that everyone fears. This is what has made it such a popular literary device for writers for centuries and has made it interesting for audiences and readers. In order to understand what is meant by a tragedy, it is important to examine the differences between classical Greek and modern English examples. The two examples that are reflected on are Sophocles' Oedipus the King and E. Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. The characters of each are starkly different, but suffer similar sorrowful fates. .
What exactly is a tragedy? A tragedy describes a series of misfortunes in the lives of the main character(s) that bring to them to ruin as a consequence of a tragic flaw, a weakness of character or opposing circumstances. The thing that distinguishes tragedy from the other dramatic forms is the feelings of pity and fear that grief and sorrow arouses and the eradication of those feelings. The tragic character or the audience must come to some revelations of fate and human limitations. In order to provoke empathy, the character should not be too virtuous or too evil but must be someone the audience can identify with. This is what moves us to fear, the ability to recognize in ourselves a similar possibility of error (Kennedy & Gioia, 2013). .
The key difference between the tragic heroes in each example is Oedipus was a King, a figure of nobility, and Willy was an average man. Herein lies one of the most notable differences between classical Greek and modern English tragedy, the political status of the main character. The other differences between the two eras of tragedies are (literarydevices.net): .
Greek tragedies focused on a single theme and plot. English tragedies, on the other hand, have several story lines developing into plots and sub-plot.
Greek tragedies had a serious subject matter that was treated in a most dignified manner. English tragedies, on the other hand, tend to mix tragic with comic.