Comparing the Tragedies of Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman

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Comparing the Tragedies of Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman

The tragedies Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman have strikingly different plots and characters; however, each play shares common elements in its resolution. The events in the plays’ closings derive from a tragic flaw possessed by the protagonist in each play. The downfall of each protagonist is caused by his inability to effectively cope with his tragic flaw. The various similarities in the closing of each play include elements of the plot, the reflection of other characters on the misfortune of the tragic hero, and expression of important themes through the dialogue of the characters.

The protagonists of Hamlet, Oedipus the King,
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However, Happy – Willy’s neglected son – decides to follow in Willy’s footsteps. Biff abandons Willy’s dreams so that he can avoid the same mistakes that beset his father. A common element between Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman was disillusionment of the tragic hero. Oedipus was ignorant of his true identity and his false notions about his life were affirmed by his belief in his own infallibility. However, his realization of his identity at the end of the play was the cause of his downfall. Willy Loman was crippled by his expectations of prosperity and success. His tragic fall was partially caused by his understanding that his illusions of grandeur would not come to fruition.

The closings of Hamlet, Oedipus the King, and Death of a Salesman provide insight into the thoughts of characters regarding the tragic hero and intimate major themes through the dialogue of the characters. In Oedipus the King, Creon reveals his apathy towards Oedipus by saying, “Command no more. Obey. Your rule is ended” (68). The Chorus declares that misfortune can occur to even the greatest of men and that no mortal can experience true happiness until death brings freedom from the troubles of life. The Greek belief that it is futile for one to attempt to escape his fate is expressed. In Hamlet, the death of Hamlet is honorable in comparison to the shameful exile of Oedipus. Horatio respects Hamlet’s request to tell his tragic story to
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