People respond to the law in a variety of ways. Some people sit submissively and wonder what they have been charged with like Josef in The Trial. While others like Antigone challenge the law, and bring change as a result. Kafka's parable of "Before the Law" tell of a man who waits his entire lifetime waiting to have access to the law. In the end, he finds that the gate was meant for him and him only and that he could have entered at any time. This illustrates how submissive people can be due to fear of the law, and what it will say because of its power over their lives. In short, the law is accessible to everyone but you must be brave enough to ask for it.
Contrast the actions of the man in the parable to that of Antigone. You will see the total opposite approach to the law. Antigone saw Kreon's law as being unjust, and believed that her brother deserved a proper burial. As a result, she breaks the law and buries her brother. When she is caught by the sentry she doesn't deny anything, and challenges Kreon's logic. Even through Antigone and Josef both die in the end, Antigone's death had a bigger impact because she was able to change the law through her death.
We can connect Kafka's "Before the Law" parable to everyday life. For example, if one person protests animal testing than others will follow. All it takes is one person to draw attention to a issue, and others will follow. In modern psychology, this is called the mob mentality in that we do things in a group that we otherwise wouldn't do. This also shows how people may want to change something, but are afraid that others won't agree with them.
Cause of Tragedy: Pride
Throughout human history people have had the trait of pride. We often find it hard to humble ourselves to others when we realize we are wrong. In Antigone by Sophocles Kreon refused to humble himself after wronging Antigone and her brother Polyneices, and he paid a steep price for his pride. Tragedy occurred in this story because Kreon chose to uphold his own law instead of listening to those around him. But since every tragedy has a happy ending Kreon in the end learns to admit he is wrong and ask for forgiveness.
When we refuse to admit that we are wrong, tragedy occurs. This theme comes into play in Antigone when Kreon makes a law stating that anyone who tries to bury the body of Polyneices will be killed. Antigone, Polyneices sister, refuses to accept this and gives her brother a proper burial, but is caught. To show the people of Thebes that every law has a consequence no matter how small Kreon upholds the law despite the fact that Antigone is betrothed to his son Haimon. Before her death many people including Haimon try to convince Kreon to let Antigone go, but because of his pride he resists. In the end, it is Kreon's pride that causes him to lose his son and his wife.
Like The Tragic Fallacy said a tragedy must have a happy ending. If you peel back the layers of tragedy, and see through the misfortunes you will see a lesson that leaves the reader satisfied. In Antigone, one must look past Kreon's loss of his son, wife, and daughter-in-law to see that in the end he learns that pride leads to tragedy.
The TED Talk that we watched today was "Are We in Control of Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely. The main purpose of this talk was for us to analyze how we make decisions and what may influence why we choose what we do. The pattern that Ariely discovered was that the more complicated the decision becomes we try to find the easiest route possible. It happens to all of us in a multitude of situations.
In the TED Talk he started with a example about countries and their rates of organ donation. The key difference between the rates was the wording on the DMV forum. The forum that said check if you want to donate your organs lead to a lower rate of organ donations. This occurs because to most people what happens to us after we die is a nonissue so we don't think about it. On the flip side when the box said if not checked you are a organ donor most people left the box unchecked because they weren't going to go out of their way to make a decision. In other words, the wording of something as simple as a DMV forum influences a persons decision.
When we were talking about the TED Talk in our groups we immediately thought of how this applies to tragedies, especially Oedipus. We concluded that if Laius and Jocasta had never been told the prophecy they wouldn't have left Oedipus to die. He would have been raised with them and knew who is parents were. Oedipus killed Laius when his carriage was run off the road, completely unaware of that it was his father that did so. If Oedipus had known Laius was his father he would likely have been in the same carriage as Laius. As for Jocasta I think it is rather obvious how the story would have turned out differently.
In life their are certain events that will be hard for us to accept. Whether that be not seeing a goal materialize or the loss of a loved one. These our things that we have a hard time accepting, and as a result we often feel a sense of despair of them. This glass slipper may seem to fit perfectly with tragedy because bad things keep happening to the characters. However, to "The Tragic Fallacy" by Joseph Krutch explains how this is anything but true. In tragedy, we accept the misfortune because we know it will lead to great things.
In The Tragic Fallacy says "We accept gladly the outward defeats which it describes for the sake of the inward victories which it reveals." This piece than goes on to show that Juliet essentially had to die to show us how great love can be. Great tragedies give us the power to see how bad things can lead to good things. One could even go as far as to say we happily accept tragic events to learn the hidden truth beneath them.
In The Tragic Fallacy it also points to how we should be content with the end of a tragedy because it is the only way it could have ended. For example, it is okay that Jocasta from Oedipus Rex died because her and Oedipus could have continued their marriage, but it shattered the mother-son relationship. Even through the final conclusion we reach is not happy we accept it.
Tragedy is written in a certain way so that it makes it easier for us to accept the bad events because we know it will lead to greater things. Tragedies endings leave us content knowing that the story couldn't have ended any other way.
Oedipus experiences many hardships in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. He unknowingly kills his father, and marries his mother causing his beloved city of Thebes to fall. When Oedipus realizes what he has done he takes his mother's clothes pins and stabs his eyes out. The people of Thebes who were once loyal to Oedipus quickly turn on him and want nothing to do with him or his children, even going as far as to say that Oedipus would be better off if he was dead. In a relatively short period of time the whole world that Oedipus knew is shattered to pieces. The crumbling of his own world, however is no fault of his own which causes people to feel a deep sense of sympathy for Oedipus. This sympathy that the audience feels for Oedipus is a important element of tragedy.
The tragic fate of Oedipus causes the audience to feel sympathy. While trying to escape the horrible circumstances that the oracle has predicted, Oedipus runs into a traveling group. During this Oedipus is struck with a cow prod which leads him to kill everyone in the group including his birth father. Following this encounter he heads to the city of Thebes defeats the Sphinx and becomes ruler of the land his father used to own, and unknowingly marries his own mother. This leads the city of Thebes to its fall. When Oedipus learns that he is the cause of his cities fall he blinds himself by stabbing his eyes out with his mother's clothes pins. He does this because of the deep feeling of shame he feels, and he doesn't want to see his children because they are a reminder of this deep sense of shame. Since Oedipus was ignorant to the fact that he had married his mother the audience feels sympathy for him.
As the events of the oracle come to light the people of Thebes quickly want nothing to do with Oedipus. This marks a shift in the attitude of the people because in the days prior they revered Oedipus as their wise and strong leader. The people of Thebes who once put him on a pedestal as a hero now say that death is the best option for Oedipus. At this point in the story we can feel how truly alone Oedipus is. He has lost his sight, his wife/mother, and a town that used to adore him. This feeling of loneliness makes the audience feel sympathy for Oedipus. The feeling of sympathy is compounded by the fact that it was Oedipus himself that led to his own fall from grace.
Sympathy is the emotion that the audience feels the most for Oedipus and the many misfortunes he suffers. He accidently caused all of the misfortunates the oracle predicated which causes the audience to feel sympathy every time something new happens. When Oedipus blinds himself upon learning that he killed his father and married his mother the audience feels bad for he has caused his own fall from grace. When the once loyal townspeople turn against Oedipus the audience feels a sense of sympathy for Oedipus in the fact that he is now living in a world that has abandoned him in every sense of the word. The tragic events that happen to Oedipus connect the audience to the main character in that it reminds us of are own sense of tragedy.
How often in today's world do we compare ourselves to others and feel bad about ourselves? We often look at our careers and wonder why we aren't were we want to be? According to de- Botton's TED Talk titled "A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success" we find ourselves experiencing career crises because we live in a world where we constantly told we can do anything which creates a environment in which we are the drivers of our success which makes failure much harder to deal with. The fear of failure is created by fear of being ridiculed and judged by others. In a meritocracy we are led to believe that certain people deserve to be at the top, and our failures are indicators that our hardships are deserved. This fear is amplified by the fact that we are often envious of those who are similar to use, but our more successful which leads us to feel we are not meeting this imaginary timeline that is set up by society. Now that I have talked about the fear of failure and envy I will now talk about where our expectations come from and things we can learn from tragedy.
The question to propose is where do our expectations for ourselves come from? Do they come from inside ourselves or are they inflicted on us by society and our parents? According to de- Botton's TED Talk we absorb expectations from the media and everything in between. A example of this in today's world would be the pressure put on women to stay thin, and look like the models put in magazines. We can see the effect of this expectation in that 20 million women in the United States suffer from a eating disorder at some point in their lives. De- Botton also mentions we absorb expectations from our parents. For example, when a kid's parents were star athletes there is a certain pressure put on their children to live up to that legacy and surpass it. The best way to combat career crisis is to look at whether our expectations our are own. Today's society can learn from tragedy by developing more empathy for our fellow man because we can never truly know a person's value.
Who understands tragedy the best? Is tragedy reserved only for the highly placed in society who can lose their spot? In "Tragedy of the Common Man" by Arthur Miller he says "In the light of modern psychiatry, which bases its analysis on classical formulations, such as the Oedipus and Orestes complexes, for instance, where were enacted by royal beings, but which apply to everyone in similar emotional situations." In other words the mind of a person who is royalty or in a high place in society is not that much different from the common man, but society conditions us to think that tragedy only happens to people who have something to lose. This loss could be as simple as a loss of wealth or a loss of a place as King like in Shakespeare's Hamlet. The article by Arthur Miller supports this with the quote "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 be, to secure one thing-his sense of personal dignity." The classical example of this is Hamlet when he tries to regain his rightful place as King that his uncle took from him by having a affair with his mother. If we feel tragedy when someone is trying to gain their "rightful" place, but what causes tragedy.
Do we really know what causes tragedy? Is it as superficial as a loss of status and wealth? Or is it something lost within the human psyche? In Tragedy of the Common Man "The quality in such plays that does shake us, however, derives from the underlying fear of being displaced, the disaster inherent of being torn away from our chosen image of what and who we are in this world. Among us today this fear is strong, and perhaps stronger, than it ever was. In fact, it is the common man who knows this fear best." In essence we all strive to be individuals who are not replaceable, and when we feel our place in the world is threatened by something or someone we will do anything to keep that spot. For example, just say you are on a basketball team, and you are the best free througher on the team. When a person who is new to the team is a better free througher then you this would cause you to most likely feel that your spot on the team is threatened by this person. The feeling of needing to preserve your spot would cause you to compete more with this person, and would lead you to try to improve your skills. The last sentence of the quote reflects how the common person is held more accountable for their actions than someone of high standing. If the common person understands tragedy more, and it is caused by our strive to be individuals than what does tragedy bring to us?
Tragedy ultimately brings us more positive qualities than negative ones. This can be highlighted by "Tragedy enlightens-- and it must, in that it points the heroic finger at the enemy, of man's freedom." which shows that as we strive to be individuals we also strive to be free, and that drive for freedom is highlighted by tragedy. In conclusion, we can more from our struggles than from our success in life.
Have you ever noticed that people say things like "She deserved to get robbed" when talking about the Kim Kardashian robbery. People learn from tragedy when it is something that has affected them personally or indirectly through someone they know. I have found evidence of this viewpoint with this quote “Tragedy is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences.” from What is Tragedy? Wikipedia.
We can connect this to the idea of revenge tragedies. In revenge tragedies the main character seeks revenge on another character. This genre of tragedy has been very popular since William Shakespeare. According to Revenge play "For others, however, the popularity of the genre is evidence that the plays expressed the frustrations and desires for justice against oppressive governance of the public." This quote suggests that people deep down want to take revenge against others, but feel boxed in by societies idea of morality and the fear of punishment from the law. A example of a revenge tragedy is Hamlet by William Shakespeare because Hamlet seeks revenge against his uncle and mother for the murder of his father.
Tragedy is meant to teach us a lesson, and in revenge tragedies the message is that revenge is not acceptable. They also often teach us about the inconsistency of fortune.