Troy Maxson As A Tragic Hero In Fences By August Wilson

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In the play Fences by August Wilson, Troy Maxson, a middle-aged man who works as a garbage man, behaves in a way which helps define the play as a tragedy according to Arthur Miller’s essay, “Tragedy and the Common Man.” In order for a play to be classified as a tragedy according to Miller, it must have a character who has a tragic flaw- he actively advocates for himself when he believes he is receiving unfair treatment, a trait which Troy displays when he demands a job as a truck driver. Additionally, Miller states that a tragedy must have a character that strongly desires to be free, a feature that Troy exhibits when he tells his wife, Rose, about his affair with a woman named Alberta. According to Miller, a tragic character will also sacrifice …show more content…

Early in the novel, Troy expresses his frustration about having to collect the garbage while the white workers drive the trucks. He tells his best friend Bono about an encounter he has had with his boss, Mr. Rand. Troy tells Bono, “I went to Mr. Rand and asked him why. ‘Why you got the white mens driving and the colored lifting?’ Told him, ‘What’s the matter, don’t I count?’” (page 1322) In communicating these feelings to Mr. Rand, Troy is standing up for that which he believes is fair and is combatting the system which he feels demeans him; an action that Miller would consider to be consistent with a “tragic flaw.” In describing a tragic flaw, Miller writes, “The flaw… is… 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.” (page 149) With these words, Miller presents his idea that a tragic hero has the capacity to embrace that which he thinks is unfair and to advocate for himself and attempt to make a change. Instead of being passive and letting himself be controlled, a tragic hero is flawed and, unlike the average person, actively promotes himself and his needs. Troy, therefore, exemplifies Miller’s description of a tragic hero by advocating for himself at his job and demanding for black workers to be able to drive the garbage trucks in addition to the white

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