Death Of A Salesman Tragic Hero Analysis

Good Essays
Tragic Hero in Death of a Salesman
Produced in the end of modernism, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman portrays a tragic story behind the American Dream. The play encompasses over a life of an average salesman, whose personal failure consumed on his deceptive and deluded life. Aristotle would perceive the downfall of the main character, Willy, as an intellectual error – not a moral error for he had fallen into an error in judgment. Furthermore, Miller combines the Aristotelian principles of tragedy and immerses it in a relatable context for the common people. Although Willy Loman fails to come into self-realization before his death, he, by the Aristotelian definition of tragic flaw and Miller’s belief in the mistakes the “common man,” is
…show more content…
Overweening pride and a haughty personality are faults of conscience according to what Aristotle perceives to be a characteristic of a tragic hero. Driven by partial-realizations, Willy Loman was a man whose miserable reality of his life was distorted and that led down to his mortal sacrifice for his family. Aristotelian law on the nature of tragedy takes the entire plot as the beginning, middle, and the end of the tragedy (Raymond 1). When filing in the requirements of a tragic hero, Willy’s downfall was flawed from the start for not being able to attain a realistic point-of-view, but overall, the climax of the tragedy is centered on the second act in the restaurant. Willy’s pride and dignity is transferred to his son, Biff. Unfortunately, Biff had not been the successful son his father had hoped for. In Act II, the scene in Frank’s Chop House, Willy Loman falls apart further as Biff deconstructs his father’s fantasy with the truth. Biff tells Happy that his father has got “to understand that I’m not the man somebody lends that kind of money to. He thinks I’ve been spiting him all these years and it’s eating him up” (Miller, 2375). As Biff experiences his epiphany to…show more content…
Miller describes "that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were." It is in his belief that the notion will help modern people relate with the main characters in a tragedy that is also applicable to the audience’s understanding a tragic drama. By Miller’s standards Willy is not “flawless” by his actions, but rather the error in his conscience that makes him a tragic hero. Miller’s ideal tragic hero "demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity," (1974, 3) when given a struggle in reality. He states that “ the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing – his sense of personal dignity” (3). The common man, Willy Loman, is believed by Miller to be the subject of his modern tragedy.
In short, Miller has recreated the Aristotelian tragic figure with a modern twist. The connotation of a tragic hero, according to Aristotle, was in character’s fall that could have been avoided due to the “inadequate” knowledge. Miller, on the other hand, took a challenge to demonstrate tragic plays for the common people to relate. Overall, Willy Loman’s overconfidence and feelings of inadequacy with his American Dream led to his downfall. The ambivalence, indecisiveness, and lack of self-esteem – all
Get Access