In class we watched a TED talk all about how as humans we are not as rational as we sometimes think. The first example the presenter uses to prove this fact is the two table picture. One table seems very long while the other seems a lot smaller, but in reality the "smaller" one is actually longer. And I think in interesting point he made was even thought he proved this fact our brains still don't see it that way and we refuse to believe it. Another big point he made was with organ donation. when presented with a list of countries some had way more donors than others. The difference in the statistics have nothing to do with culture or religion but actually the form itself. The country with more donors you have to mark the box if you don't want to donate, while the ones with less donors have to mark he box if they would like too. As humans we like to believe we are in control of our decisions and choices, but in reality its is sometimes based on what is easier.
I think that all this relates to tragedy through illusions and fate. There is proof that the human mind is tricked by different factors and pictures. And while we think we are being smart we are sometimes mistaken. We think we have control over things in our life, just like heroes do in tragedies, but in reality that is not true. Like our brain controls us in the real world, fate controls things in tragedy. Not everything is as it seems.
"Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles is a classic example of a tragedy and it was something that I really enjoyed reading. I think there are many themes found in the play that make it have such a tragic tone. The first is that Oedipus can easily be considered a tragic hero, overall he is a good person even though he has a tragic flaw. I think that his flaw is his pride and his large ego. Oedipus was very determined to be the one to save his city from the sickness that had struck it. Although he had very good intenstions to find the man who was the cause of the curse, when presented with the information he was oblivious to the fact that that man was himself. Even though that small plot twist was pretty clear to everyone else at a certain point. In the end Oedipus's mother/wife/mother of his children figures out what has happened and what she has done and distraughtly kills herself. This is what makes Oedipus finally figure everything out. In the heat of the moment the tragic hero blinds himself with his mothers gold brooches. He is terribly saddened by the thought of his daughters never going to be able to marry since they were born from incest and asks Creon to take care of them. Oedipus also asks Creon to exile him and Creon agrees to do it if the Gods approve. Oedipus, a baby sentenced to death rose to become King who tried his best to save his city. And although his intentions were good the facts that he, without knowing, killed his father and then having no clue the blood relation married Jocasta, his queen mother, ends up blind homeless and exiled in the end. This creates the perfect definition of a tragedy.
In class this week we read Arthur Miller’s “Tragedy of the Common Man.” Miller starts off by talking about how tragedies are not just for the upper class or nobility but for everyone including the “common man.” He talks about how this is a major misconception when we think about tragedies today. Next the subject of personal dignity comes up and a quote that sums up this section that I really liked is “I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need.” Main characters according to Miller have many qualities such as the need to prove themselves, gain their “rightful” position in society,and a tragic flaw. The flaw will lead to a character development and show just how far the character is willing to go to justify himself. Miller also explains why it is the common man over those in power that understand tragedy more. Also the possibility of success must be present. I think this is a very important point and without hope in the story the audience would get bored. Also the slight hope that there might be a happy ending creates a even sadder environment when the tragedy strikes and there is no joyful resolution.
One of the things that this essay made me realize is why tragedies relate more to the “common man” than anyone else. The overall essential theme of a tragedy that makes it a true tragedy is the struggle and the fear of being displaced that goes along with that. This feeling is not felt by the upper class or royalty, so as Miller puts it “it is the common man who knows this fear best.” I had never thought about it that way before reading this.
The TED talk that we listened to in class was really interesting and the speaker had some really well thought out ideas on his views of society. He starts off by talking about how people judge others based on what they do. Everyone judges, snobbery is everwhere. We judge people off their success and their material goods. Another big point he made was about how in society we believe everyone is equal and that everyone can make it in life if they work hard. I think he called it meritocracy. But this has a negative side that I had never personally thought about. If everyone can make it in the world if they try, then they deserve it. but if this theory doesn't have double standards then the people on the low side of society deserve that also. I don't think this is true but it it something to think about if we believe that the opposite is true. He goes on to talk about in history if you were unfortunate people didn't look down on you because thats just the way things were and you couldn't change that, but today we would see them as "losers" because you have more control over your life now than ever before. I think this was a huge point too. He ties in the theme of tragedy when he starts to talk about how newspapers today would spin tragedies of the past. How tragedies and todays media are complete opposites of each other. One quote that I liked was about Hamlet, "it would be insane to call Hamlet a loser, he is not a loser even though he is lost."
I think that I know what is fairly obvious about tragedies and what everyone probably knows, tragedies are sad pieces of literature. I feel like they usually involve the death of someone and the aftermath of that passing. I don't know if there are any requirements that a piece needs to incorporate to have it be considered a tragedy, but I'm assuming there are.
I learned through my research that tragedies are dramas based on human suffering that invoke emotions in their audiences. Tragedies have an origins from theaters in ancient Greece about 2500 years ago. From that there are many things that have influenced of tragedies over time, from countries like Greece, Rome, and Britain, to individuals like Aristotle and Hegel. Tragedy of the commons is an economic theory of a shared-resource system where individuals act in their own self-interest and behave contrary to the common good of everyone by spoiling a resource. Another type of tragedy is revenge tragedy. Also called a revenge play, it is a dramatic genre where the protagonist seeks revenge for an injury. This is just a small amount of what I read but its the key points of everything and I think thats what is important.