Four facets of the relation of tragedy to dialectic and the theme of crisis of expectations
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As a whole, this work serves to illuminate the tragic as a fundamental human phenomenon and an objective fact that is distinct not only from comedy and irony but from other forms of calamity and modes of failure. I consider three distinct sources of philosophical knowledge on tragedy. The first is tragic drama and literature, the second is the theory of the tragic and the third source consists of the employment of the concept of tragedy to discuss events or characters that one encounters in life. I carefully draw upon the first two sources to thicken the elaborations of four different facets of the third. In this process, I extrapolate Szondi’s notion that tragedy is a specific dialectic in a specific space. In the course of this work, I place a greater emphasis upon this general concept of the tragic as opposed to a poetics of tragedy. The dissertation bears out, however, that it is ultimately poetics - and not the dialectic as general concept - that provide us with the richer insights into tragedy as it unravels in life. The specific dialectic of tragedy unravels so as to cause the irreplaceable loss of something of great value. This provides me with a structuring element that ties the four central chapters together. In terms of content, I emphasize also upon the tragic flaw as a set of character traits (manifested by an individual or some form of collective) which keep tragedy in place. The consideration of the figure of Willy Loman allows me to examine the tragedy of failure of expectations which is a distinct category of the tragic and yet it oscillates such that ties together the other themes. A central idea that emerges from an analysis of the overlapping themes is that prior to tragedy is the investment of the deepest inner resources into a process. This investment gives rise to identity and to expectations. As a tragedy unfolds, the source of the identity or of expectation becomes also the birth place or the generator of all threats to this identity and the collapse of long nurtured expectations.
Death of a Salesman
Failure of expectations
Haris, Muhammad (2008). Four facets of the relation of tragedy to dialectic and the theme of crisis of expectations. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from