Discuss as a tragedy, The Old Man And the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway

"A tragedy traces the career and downfall of an individual, and shows in this demise both the capacities and the limitations of human life". The protagonist may be a superhuman, a monarch, or in the modern age, an ordinary person i.e. Santiago.
< br>Santiago, "a salao", is a veteran fisherman. He has been without a fish for eighty for days. He goes "far out" into the deep sea on the eighty fifth day. After hooking a big marlin, he fights valiantly for 48 hours to kill it. The fish tows the boats and tests his mettle. Santiago challenges the fish: "Fish, I will stay with you until I am alive". His left hand cramps, his body bleeds and he has to feed on raw fish to survive but he does not give in. He eventually kills the marlin. He ties it to his boat and sails homeward.

Had the story ended here, it would have been a great romantic tale but it is not. The blood of marlin invites sharks. They come numberless eating the flesh of marlin. Though Santiago upholds that ""But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated" and does kill a couple of sharks yet cannot save the marlin. What we find is the skeleton of the fish and the wounded old man. There is sheer loss and pity!

The story is a tragedy because it involves his heroic fight with sharks and the marlin, his fatal error of entering deep sea, his fatal loss by sharks and the element of pity we have for him at the end of the story.



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Hassnain.Shah
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Nov 2017
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