The story of Oedipus is a tragedy in a few different ways. The first and greatest tragedy is the one of Oedipus attempting to avoid his fate. When he heard of the prophecy saying he was going to kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus ran away. He was so horrified by this prophecy that he tried to escape this reality, but he ended up running right into it.
Oedipus unknowingly kills his own father when thinking he is killing the passengers of a carriage that attempted to run him off the road. Oedipus kills his father, but it is said that King Laius was killed by a group of robbers, not one man, so Oedipus believes he is in the clear. But in fact, the woman he thought was his mother was not, and the man he thought was not his father was.
In a very confused and twisted story, the prophecy comes true and Oedipus blinds himself out of horrification.
Miller: "Tragedy of the Common Man" talks about the idea that everybody has an equal chance to fall victim to a tragedy. Normally when we think of tragedies we think of Kings, heroes and those in positions of power because they have a long way to fall. If you think about, the common man has just as far to fall, just in a different way. A King losing an oversea colony is a pretty tragic but a man's car breaking down can be equally devastating. If he needs his car to get to work then he will most certainty lose his job. If he loses his job, he loses his house. A King's colony is far more expensive than a man's car but the loss is more devastating for for the man because he has less. We rarely appreciate tragedy of the common man because it is almost familiar to us. We expect that at anytime a common man can lose everything. Miller said, "the common man knows fear best." A King who lives in a palace seems stable and less likely to lose everything because we don't normally see it happen.
"Let's make sure that our ideas of success are truly our own"
What is success? Who knows? So many people have an idea of what success is, but I believe everyone's success looks different. Success is achieving whatever goal you have set for yourself. For some it's getting married, having a family, and just being happy. For other's it's getting a college degree and becoming the CEO of a company. There is no one specific definition for success because it looks different for each person.
"We need to be authors of our own ambition"
Often times we are motivated by the desire to please or impress other people. We do things because we think that's what society wants from us. If I drive a nice car and wear expensive things then people will be impressed with me. If I marry the millionaire then people will look up to me. I think it's time we become motivated by the things we want to achieve. Maybe our desire is to open up a delicious donut shop, but we put that goal on the back burner because society tells us it won't pay good enough. Maybe our goal is to become a model but society tells us we don't want to be seen as a dumb blonde. Maybe our goal is simply to live a happy life but society tells us only money will make us happy. Well let's stop putting our true desires on the back burner, and lets start becoming the authors of our own ambition.
"We can't be successful at everything"
Some people who read that just went into a panic attack. But it's true. I think the problem with today's generation is that we try to be the best at everything. The fact of the matter is that there's almost always going to be someone who's better at something than you (unless you're Usain Bolt. In which case, you are the fastest person in the world.) We are never going to be the best at everything, so why do we try so hard to be? Pick a few things you're good at and you love to do, and do them to the best of your ability. When we spread ourselves to thin and attempt to do everything, we end up dropping the ball. Don't try to be successful at everything because you will never succeed.
Tragedy: a drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances. This is the (one of many) technical definition, but we do we think tragedy is? It can be a small occurrence or a catastrophic event. Normally we think of tragedy as something we read about in plays or stories but it can be plainly seen in our everyday lives. Tragedy is pouring a bowl of cereal, only to discover there is no milk left. Tragedy is the mother who dies giving birth, while the baby lives. Tragedy is the ruler whose kingdom crumbles before him.
Tragedy is the main theme of many works of literature throughout history. Examples include: Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Oedipus Rex, Julius Caesar, Of Mice and Men, The Book Thief, The Fault In Our Stars, The Lovely Bones, et cetera, et cetera... Each one has a different type of tragedy, the most common being death. In Romeo & Juliet, both Romeo and Juliet die. In Hamlet, who doesn't die? In Macbeth, again, pretty much everyone dies. It continues on for the rest - people die.
Tragedy makes you feel. It doesn't always have to make you feel sad, but it makes you feel something. It's passionate and extreme and raw. One's tragedy could be dropping their phone in the toilet while another's is the death of a parent in a terrible car accident.
There is an interesting paper online that talks about the idea that American pop culture does not value tragedy, that we find tragedy depressing. It offers interesting perspective to this topic that is not generally thought about. It includes the following quote:
"Tragedy is more important than love. Out of all human events, it is tragedy alone that
brings people out of their own petty desires and into awareness of other humans'
suffering. Tragedy occurs in human lives so that we will learn to reach out and comfort
--C. S. Lewis