The parable, "Before the Law", by Frank Kafka relates to breaking the law and standing up in society. The piece highlights a man that is standing in front of a door. He wants to get in and on to the other side but is too scared to try getting pass the doorman. Because of this he waits his whole life complaining about getting through until he gets old and it is too late.
The point of the story is to show that sitting and doing nothing about something important to you can seem like a tragedy because you won't know what lies on the other side until you do something about it. "If you don't try nothing will change". Sometimes breaking a rule is the only way to create change that could be beneficial to a community. If you spend your life only wishing you had enough courage to "get through the door" that can seem tragic.
This relates to the story we read, Antigone. Although it was tragic for Kreon because of everyone who died, it could have been a tragedy for Antigone if she did not break the rules and bury her brother. She would have spent her whole life in guilt from not doing her part and standing up to society.
At the end of the story the doorkeeper says to the man, "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you." This means that breaking laws or rules is exclusively up to you. Everyone has their own chance to make something better but they have to have the motivation and determination to change it.
From reading Oedipus Rex and the tragedy that resulted from that story, we then looked at the story of Antigone, Oedipus' daughter. In this story, the two son's of Oedipus duel to be ruler and end up killing each other. One son gets a proper burial from Kreon but the other is left out to the birds. Antigone, thinking this is wrong, takes her sister and they both bury the brother even though they are risking getting themselves killed as well.
A lot of the tragedy centered around Kreon since he was stubborn in his opinions. He even says, "Will the nation tell me what orders I can give?" Even though Kreon is very much connected with Antigone, he refuses for her to bury her brother. Because he is stubborn like this, Antigone goes and buries the brother anyway and Kreon sends her to her death.
Towards the end of the story, Kreon realizes the huge mistake he has made. Antigone and Haimon both committed suicide. Antigone hanging herself in the same way Jocasta, her mother, did in Oedipus Rex. "Kreon has shown there is no greater evil than men's failure to consult and consider." If he were able to change his ways before, then no one would have died. Sometimes it takes a tragedy for someone to learn a lesson. In this instance it took the death of Oedipus' children to show Kreon to change his stubborn ways.
We all like to think that our power to make decisions is the main reason we are able to stay different and unique from the rest of the world. However, making decisions might actually just be an illusion of our minds. In class we watched a Ted Talk that went over main ideas in the illusion of free will and that we don't make choices based on ourselves but on inferior choices making others look superior.
There are a lot of correlations between this talk and literature exploring tragedy. In the Ted Talk, the speaker went over how we don't really "choose our own destiny". There are a lot of decisions to make in life where you think that you are making a choice based of of your own intuition. However, usually you only think that you are making a decision and you are actually influenced by other choices. In Oedipus Rex for example, Oedipus and Jocasta think that they are making smart decisions in order to resolve and avoid their fates and prophecies. Although at the end they realize there was no way of escaping the fact that Oedipus killed his father and married his mother happened anyways.
Sometimes what we think is the right decision ends up stabbing us in the back later. "Our intuition fools us even after being showed reality." It is almost like seeing. Since the human race is so great at sight you think we would be amazing at it with little faults. Except when we look at optical illusions it confuses our minds. If we are not so great at that, think of all the other things that we could be even worse at. This is like decision making. We think we are really good at it but in reality we are either making wrong decision or sometimes the right ones but only because there was an outside force willing us to make that certain choice. Sometimes we try to make choices that avoid tragedy but I think a good lesson to be learned from this is that tragic moments in out lives are inevitable.
In class this past week we took a look at "The Tragic Fallacy" by Joseph Krutch. We did the same thing as before where we are in groups of three and analyze the text by interpreting the other group members quotes that they thought were the most important inside the text. While I was reading i noticed three good quotes actually, two of them already being picked by the other people in my group. The quote I ended up saying was, "Hence it is that every real tragedy, however tremendous it may be is an affirmation of faith in life, a declaration that even if God is not in his Heaven, then at least Man is in his world." This also goes along with the quote further down in the piece that says, "A tragic writer does not have to believe in God, but he must believe in man." I thought this was very important to the message Krutch was trying to express because it lets the reader know that a tragedy does effect God's or unearthly beings. Man is the only thing that can experience tragedy and that makes it relatable to anyone studying it. Tragedy is not something that is old and not relevant anymore because everyone deals with tragic moments in his or her life.
Another part of the writing that I thought was important and so did my group was, "...kept him alice long enough to allow him to learn his error and hence to die, not in despair, but in full acceptance of the tragic reconciliation to life." This stood out a lot in the text because it is interesting to know that most of the time death at the end of a tragedy is for a reason. Most of the time in Literature, the author has the character who has experienced the tragedy die but not until they have come to terms with their tragic moment. For example in Romeo and Juliet they do not die until they realize how "great and resplendent a thing love could be". Shakespeare does this a lot when writing about tragedy to show it happening for a reason and that the characters are supposed to learn and grow from it, even thought the end result could be death.
The past two days were spent reading the poem Oedipus Rex, a tale about a man named Oedipus who in trying to avoid his prophecy that says he will kill his father, marry his mother, and have children with her, does exactly that. When picking a part this story and looking closely at individual quotes, you are able to see how great a tragedy this is on Oedipus and his wife Jocasta and how much it affects their lives and futures.
When Jocasta finally comes face to face with the truth it is so hard to except that she goes insane and hangs herself. The servant explains how it all happened saying, "She killed herself. She passed inside the hall in passions grip, tearing her hair with all her fingers' might..." and "A husband by her husband there and children by her child". The second quote is very impactful and sums up why this entire situation is awful and tragic. No one would want to face this kind of truth, especially Jocasta since she thought she ended this prophecy years ago.
Although Jocasta takes her life because of the weight of the situation, Oedipus seems to experience the largest amount of tragedy. He first blames the entire event on his wife but after finding her dead he then proceeds to gorge his eyes out with a brooch. He says, "What good are they when there is nothing sweet to see?" Oedipus has reached the lowest point in his life because of his prophecy and because of this feels that seeing won't make the horrible situation any better.
If what Oedipus and Jocasta did to themselves was not enough to show how tragedy has impacted these two, the chorus wraps up the poem by saying a few things such as, "What a flood of grim misfortune overwhelms him now!" and "Happiness means ending life without being crushed by pain." Being truly happy means not leaving this earth with a tragedy, which seems to be the case of the two. This resemble's all tragic moments in life because when they happen they can feel like death. You cannot not stop tragedy and it is horrible. It makes you who you are and who you will become. When Oedipus experiences this drastic reversal of fortune it is too much for him to handle and in that shows an enormous tragedy in the poem.
In class we watched a Ted Talk that highlighted many different topics but in the end all came into a conclusion about tragedy. The talk mainly stayed on topics relating to society and how people interact with one another. The speaker showed how this whole idea of tragedy also correlates with loss but also success.
When we think about the competition aspect of society we tend to compare each other in saying "that person is better than this person". This makes up the basis for everyday life. Most of the time people think that is how it should be, where the people that are the best are put on somewhat of a pedestal. However, in the Ted Talk, the speaker says that if you believe that the people that are talented deserve to be at the top of society than you also believe that the people who are not talented are worthy of being on the bottom. "Everybody deserves to get where they get to." Since no one wants to be at the bottom, there is a lot of competition and the people who truly are "the best" are not always the people who are so high up in society. This makes sense when think about tragedy. If you compare your self to other that seem better than you start to envy them. This envy and feeling judged by others can feel like a tragedy on ones life.
Another topic highlighted by the speaker dealt with being successful but at the same time experiencing loss. Most of the time if you haven't experienced some kind of tragedy there is nothing for you to learn and improve upon and you might not end up being as successful as you could have hoped to be. There is a difference between being a "loser", and have experienced "loss". This element of lost is always apparent as well because a person cannot be successful at every single thing. By using that logic we are able to see that owning your ideas of success is better than simply trying to be great at everything because you want to be "higher up" in the world than someone you envy.
To learn more about tragedy our groups in class looked at a piece called "Tragedy and the Common Man" by Arthur Miller. In this, Miller touches on how you do not need to be a King or higher up in the world to experience something tragic. Each person in the group picked a part in the piece that stood out to them the most and we were all able to interpret each others quotes in our own meanings as well. This helped accumulate multiple perspectives on one single part is the paper.
Personally, while I read "Tragedy and the Common Man", the quote from Miller that I thought was very influential was, "The flaw, or crack in the character, is really nothing--and need be nothing--but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity, his image of his rightful status. There were many ways that you could interpret this quote and the members of my group thought of some good points that I did not think of. However I mainly saw this quote as a way of saying how a specific character perceives his or her tragic moment is actually what makes it tragic. For example if something bad happened to someone but they did not feel affected by it, the event would not seem like a huge tragedy. Tragic moments challenge a person's dignity and how they react to a situation can determine how they change or improve on themselves when this tragedy is resolved.
Going along with this idea, I also thought the quote from another one of my group members was important. The part that stood out the most was when Miller wrote, "But for a moment everything is in suspension, nothing is accepted, and in 'this stretching and tearing apart of the cosmos, in the very action of so doing, the character gains ''size"'. This quote initially shows that a character has to experience tragedy in order to grow as a person. Dealing with tragedy in a certain way can actually lead to positive aspects if you interpret it correctly and show a desire to learn from it.
Both of these quotes help showcase the overall theme of the paper that anyone can experience tragic moments. It is all in how you deal with them that makes you who you truly are.
When we all think of tragic moments in our lives we think of something that is sad. Sometimes it is a loss or a bad thing happening to a good person. However, we never really thought of a tragedy to have a positive result, which can be prominent in some types of literature.
In the simplest form of tragedy it is someone who experiences something bad and at first may not know how to cope with it because of the severity of the situation. "Tragedy is characterized by seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune" (Tragedy, Wikipedia). What sticks out in this quote is the "reversal of fortune". Not only does it mean something horrible has happened but it also reveals that literature tends to focus on a person having mostly fortunate moments throughout the course of his or her life. Once a character experiences tragedy it seems enhanced and made worse since it would feel like the lowest point in their life. By reading about tragic moments in other characters lives, we are able to learn how the overcome their tragedy and how it makes them stronger towards the stories end.
If we were to expand more into tragedy we would also notice that there can be different types. One of these types, revenge tragedy, can be very important to the plot of a story. "The revenge tragedy is a dramatic genre in which the protagonist seeks revenge for an imagined or actual injury" (Revenge Tragedy, Wikipedia). Revenge tragedy reveals what happens after the tragic moment happens. It is one of the most common ways we see characters deal with tragedy. If someone feels wronged by another person, a way of dealing with that could be seeking revenge. Of course seeking revenge is not really the best way to cope with something tragic, but telling a story that uses this allows the reader to learn from mistakes the character's make. Everyone has to deal with tragic moments and tragedy has been evident in lives for hundreds of years. By comparing tragedy throughout time we can also see how it evolves and learn how to deal with our own tragic moments.