December 3, 2005

Miller and Tragedy

"More simply, when the question of tragedy in art in not at issue, we never hesitate to attribute to the well-placed and the exalted the very same mental processes as the lowly. And finally, if the exaltation of tragic action were truly a property of the high-bred character alone, it is inconceivable that the mass Of mankind should cherish tragedy above all other forms, let alone be capable of understanding it." (from Miller's essay on Tragedy)

Miller's essay calls to recognize the importance that our society places on tragedy as a genre. It is important that we not isolate this particular human emotion and attribute it to solely the upper-crust, in part because of its very stature as it has been placed literature over the centuries. It is best remembered that tragedy is a well-spring of emotion that can fill even the seemingly most insignificant of basins. Tragedy can flood any one person's life - because it is that flexible. The trickle down effect of this faction is seen in all social classes, especially in the world removed from literature. It is interesting to think that some people automatically correlate tragic action with the artistocracy. Perhaps this equation is because of the fact that tragedy, at higher levels of social class, can seemingly effect a more broad span of people. In reality, every day tragedy of the common person can effect just as many people - but perhaps in more subtle ways. Any of Hemingway's works showcase the fallout of Post-WWI on the lost generation. It is interesting to note that the grand-scale catastrophe, the War - tragic in nature, can inherently suffocate people's individual lives in such ways that are given to the abandonment of long established beliefs and ideals. Big tragedy, massive ripple effects - however, the effects were not just seen on the leadership, the institutions: the effects came back to the common people.

Literature throughout the 20th century shows a movement to elucidate tragedy in the lives' of people. In this semester alone, we've studied works that contain tragic elements. These elements aren't crushing the bourgeois, but rather stifling the proletariat.

Posted by KatieAikins at December 3, 2005 3:06 PM