In his essay "Tragedy and the Common Man" Arthur Miller provides an in depth look at tragedy in literature. He starts out by correcting the common association of tragedy and nobility or royalty. Often, we view tragedy as something experienced by people in great power, such as many of the heroes of classic tragic works like Hamlet and Oedipus Rex. We think of it as something above ourselves but Miller argues that regular people like us can experience and relate to tragedy.
    Miller goes on to explain that we can relate to tragedy because of the feelings evoked by it. The characters are ready to die in order to protect their dignity. Tragedies are defined by heroes struggling to "gain their 'rightful' position in society". The hero either loses his place or longs to gain a higher position, and spends the entire story in attempts to gain that dignity.    What is then revealed is something called the "tragic flaw", which is essentially something that stands for the character's unwillingness to ignore whatever challenges his dignity. This flaw is used to make the character start to question things about the world which they have never doubted before. There is an "underlying fear of being displaced" that readers can directly relate to. I can relate to this feeling because in our society people are always watching to see you fall. Look at all of the tabloid magazines who broadcast and delight in the mistakes that celebrities make. Reputation is the hardest thing to keep clean, and redemption is near impossible. Everyone fears that they will lose the favor of the world. 
    The tragic flaw also leads to a revelation of moral laws to the character. This allows the character to grow and realize his fears in order to weigh how much he is willing to give to regain his dignity.
    Lastly, Miller talks about the misconception that tragedy is full of pessimism. He claims that even though a story has a "sad" ending, it can actually be rather optimistic. The hero in a tragedy gives his all to achieve his rightful place, reaffirming for readers the "indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity." Tragedy has to hold some hope for victory. If it does not, it is defined as pathos rather than tragedy. Pathos involves characters fighting battles they have no chance of winning, while tragedy has a "nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. In the end, tragedy embodies hope in the "perfectibility" of man.

Miller's view of tragedy was very insightful for me. I like how his formula helps draw meaning from tragedy and helps identify themes within the stories. I can also see just how tragedy can relate to common people. We all have flaws and fight to keep our dignity and reputation.