Death of a Salesman Structure Metaphoric Language and Theme In looking at the characteristics of the tragic hero, it can be see that Willy Loman is not a tragic hero but a victim of a false idealistic pursuit of the “American Dream”. Willy strives to become and instill in his sons the success of the self made man that American society often advertises but ultimately falls short, and instead, escapes accepting his failure through lies and death. What many flaws Willy possesses, most do not correlate with the classic tragic hero. Willy Loman, was never really of noble stature, as was summed up by Linda, the person who knew him best. “ Willy Loman never made a lot of money.
The play thrives on the pity shown for Willy, he lives in his own world false world, only doing harm to those around him, and listening to imaginary characters. His main fault, the denied fake world he lives in, becomes the downfall. In a delusion he misreads his son, and kills himself, suffering a downfall. Through which, the “audience experiences a catharsis — the cleansing or purgation associated with classical tragedy.” (Johansson) In the most true sense of the meaning, it is argued that “Death of a Salesman” is not a Classical tragedy. The first and foremost reason: Willy Loman is not a king nor can he ever become great or noble.
American Tragedy Aristotle defined tragedy in his respected piece Poetics that defined the tragedy and many other forms of literature. Many tragic heroes such as Oedipus Rex and Romeo and Juliet fit well into this mold of a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle. For example, they were flawed but well intentioned and their lives ended in a catastrophic death. Those plays, and many others in the genre, had all the elements of a tragedy: plot, character, thought, diction, melody, and spectacle. They were fantastic displays of misery that aroused pity and fear in the audience.
In Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller we are presented with a Modern tragedy as exhibited by the Loman Family. The family patriarch and character, Willy Loman disillusionally believes that he is a top salesperson and an extremely successful businessman. Throughout his life he constructs elaborate fantasies to deny his repeated failures to fulfill his desires and expectations for himself and that of his children. These self-deceptions and the final self-realization of the truth lead to Willy’s eventual downfall and subsequent death caused by suicide. The central tragedy in Death of a Salesman is exemplified by the central character and father figure Willy Loman.
A tragic hero brings his own demise upon himself due to a crippling character flaw. Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller satisfies the criteria for a tragic hero because his pride leads to his downfall. Despite not being a man of high estate, Willy’s readiness to “lay down his life” (miller criticism) makes him a prime example of a modern tragic hero. Willy’s pride inhibits the success of his family by feeding his egotistical nature, idealism, and false value system. Willy eventually addresses these negative traits he possesses and sacrifices himself for his family, thus satisfying Death of a Salesman as a tragic play.
Whenever this man finds tiniest bit of happiness, he takes two steps back and destroys it. He never seems to realize the damage he is doing, but because it happens to him so frequently it seems like he does not want to be happy. “I could not become anything... ... middle of paper ... ... he died alone. When dealing with the absurd in my life I do not push to an extreme as these stories do. Overall, these stories share a common theme of loneliness and tragedy.
His distorted perceptions of the American Dream ultimately ruined his life and the lives of his family. Sadly, Willy definitely failed as a father. He obviously favored his eldest son Biff over his youngest son Happy, and this constant neglect drove Happy to become more like his older brother as an adult in order to win his father’s approval. We can see this through his philandering behavior, something Biff was known for in high school, the golden years. Biff, on the other hand, had it worse because his father sold him lies about his importance in the business industry, which forced Biff to admire Willy and strive to be like him one day.
In contrast Miniver Cheevy, had nothing to be admired for, he had done nothing with his life and yet he longed to have the adoration that Richard Cory had, the respect and almost kingly qualities, “he was a gentleman from sole to crown”. Miniver Cheevy wanted to be the hero that Cory was to the people on the street. “Miniver mourned the ripe renown that made so many a name so fragrant.” ”Richard Cory” is told from an outsider’s point of view, so that the reader does not gain any more insight into Cory’s mind then the people on the pavement. This also adds to the surprise when Cory, seemingly happy, puts a bullet in his head. Richard Cory had no friends the people of the town never really saw him as a person, in fact they never saw him at all, the “people on the pavement looked at him”, never spoke to him, he was only something to admire.
This turns sour however, after Biff discovers the father he idolizes was not all he had thought him to be. Afterward, familial dynamics are never the same, as Willy continues to hope that Biff will succeed, ignorant- perhaps purposely so- that his son is failing out of spite, knowing that all his father’s hopes are resting on his shoulders. Willy’s relationships with his two sons are tentative at best, but Happy and Biff are partly to blame for this downhill spiral- as their relationship is just as complex. In the play, “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman remembers scenes from years previous, particularly idyllic times when his two sons were still young and full of promise. Willy’s memories focus on Biff: Biff’s chances at success, Biff’s talents, Biff’s popularity.
If Willy was a little more aware of his son's situation, his true character, Biff may have realized sooner that he was not "a leader of men." When asked whose fault it is that he never accomplished anything, Biff answered "...I never got anywher... ... middle of paper ... ...r looked up to was nothing more than a "fake", and Biff lost all reason to his life. Everything that Willy taught him was destroyed on that one night. Every rule, every piece of advice, was nulled by that one act of adultery. Willy Loman tried his best to be a good father.