The main universal question is “Who am I?” and we try to answer it throughout all our life and often are not able to do it. At first Oedipus tries not to think about this question, about his fate, he is “blind”. The main character of Sophocles’ play, Oedipus does not believe the oracle that he will kill his father and marry his own mother. He leaves his native town and does not communicate with his relatives. He becomes the king, people love him and everything is good but, all in all, there is no escaping from the fate – everything happens as the oracle has predicted. In the end he gets to know that he has killed his father and is married to his own mother and the plague is a severe penalty for this. This is the main plot of the play and we can see that Oedipus’ fate is really very dramatic.
Ibsen in his play Hedda Gabler also presents a protagonist who is blind to everything around. Hedda is a strong and powerful woman but she has the only role in her life – a role of a housewife. She cannot stand this way of life, she lives like a golden bird in a cage. She does not see any way out. When she finds her father’s pistols she realizes her power and significance. These pistols are symbols of aggression and masculine power which are hidden in her. She becomes blind because she gets power she has never had before. In this blindness she accidentally kills Lovborg.
In Death of a Salesman the protagonist not being able to find the way out turns to the last escape. Willy decides to end up his life and earn some money in such a way because the family will get money for his life insurance. “But what makes Death of a Salesman more than an indictment of a system and gives Willy a truly tragic dimension is the intimation that Willy suffers not just from the inhumanity of free enterprise, but also from his inability to reconcile the hopes he had for his life with the one he has actually lived” (Foster 87). At the end of his life Willy realizes that he wanted his sons to achieve goals they did not want. He wanted Biff to realize his dream and it was his mistake. Now he gives his family money and freedom, so they at last can do what they want and need and Willy will not prevent them from doing it. Willy’s death shows one more time that this is a complex round character who cannot be interpreted in one dimension.
In Hamlet written by Shakespeare in 1600 the protagonist becomes the victim of circumstances. Hamlet can not forget his mother’s quick marriage after his father’s death and at last revenges his father’s death on his uncle. Revenge makes him blind. Hamlet is an extraordinary personality with a rich controversial inner world. He feels grief, love and a wish to revenge at the same time. He is confused and can not resolve the situation himself. He gets through a number of significant life stages in the play which teach him something all the time. The hatred that lives in Hamlet’s heart, all in all, leads him to his demise and he is left with nothing
Foster, Richard A. “Confusion and tragedy: the failure of
Miller’s ‘Salesman.’” in Two Modern Tragedies: Reviews and Criticisms of ‘Death of a Salesman’ and ‘Streetcar named Desire’. Ed. John D. Hurell. Scribner’s, 1961, pp. 82-8.