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Death Of A Salesman

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Tragedy was a very controversial issue in literature until recent years. Recent figures in literature have set a clear definition for tragedy. Author Miller is one of these figures. Plays and novels have distinguished the definition of tragedy. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary tragedy is a serious piece of literature typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites pity or terror. Miller’s explains that a tragic hero does not always have to be a monarch or a man of a higher status. A tragic hero can be a common person. A tragedy does not always have to end pessimistically; it could have an optimistic ending. The play Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, is a tragedy because it’s hero, Willy Loman, is a tragic figure that faces a superior source, being the American dream and the struggle for success. Loman also excites pity in the reader because of his defeat and his inability to become a success or teach his children how to make their lives successful.

Miller defines a flaw as “an inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what one conceives to be a challenge to one’s dignity…” Loman fulfills many of the requirements of being a tragic hero. Willy is not “flawless” in his actions, which by Miller’s standards make him a tragic hero. It is not wrong for Willy to have flaws and it does not make him a weaker man but a tragic figure. Miller designed the play so that Willy could be a tragic hero and for this he needs to have a flaw. Willy’s flaw is that he is unable to see things in a more realistic perspective. Charley says something in the play that sums up Willy’s whole life. He asks him, "When the hell are you going to grow up?" Willy’s spends his entire life in an illusion. He sees himself as a great man that is popular and successful. Willy exhibits many childlike qualities. Many of these qualities have an impact on his family. His two sons Biff and Happy pick up this behavior from their father. He is idealistic, stubborn, and he has a false sense of his importance in the world.

The extreme to which he followed the dream brought him to disillusionment and a loose sense of reality. Willy created a reality for himself where he "knocked 'em cold in Providence," and "slaughtered 'em in Boston."(p.33) “Five hundred gr...

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...nderstands. Willy could have still been successful if he was able to see the flaws in his ways and teach Biff the right way to be a success, which is in hard work. If Willy had not killed himself and taught Biff that working hard at anything would make his successful then Biff may have reached success for himself and make Willy a successful father as well. The reader must look at Willy’s suicide through Willy’s eyes. He killed himself in order to give Biff a better shot at being a success. Willy doesn’t understand that killing himself is wrong and he is not looking for any pity. Willy has sacrificed his own life so that Biff could have a better life. This truly does make him a tragic hero.

Willy Loman is a tragic figure in the play Death of a Salesman. Willy faces a superior source in the play and puts his life on the line for his beliefs and the beliefs of others. He meets the requirements of Miller’s article for a tragic hero. Death of a Salesman also meets Miller’s requirements for a tragic play because of Willy’s role in the novel along with the other standards that Miller sets for a tragedy. The exploration of tragedy by people such as Miller helps to define it more clearly.
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