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.
Tragic Heroes in Oedipus the King and Death of a Salesman The tragic hero is defined by Aristotle as "a great man who is neither a paragon of virtue and justice nor undergoes the change to misfortune through any real badness or wickedness but because of some mistake” (Aristotle n. pag.). There are a few principles that Aristotle believes to form a tragic hero: the protagonist should be a person of power and nobility, who makes a major error in judgment and eventually comes to realization of his or her actions (Aristotle n. pag.). In Arthur Millers’ play, Death of a Salesman, he has twisted Aristotle’s belief of a tragic hero, and has created his own.
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.
In every one of William Shakespeare plays is a tragic hero, and every tragic hero has a tragic flaw. Two examples of this would occur in Hamlet and Macbeth. Both title characters possess the equalities of a tragic hero. What is tragedy? Aristotle defines tragedy: "A tragedy must not be the spectacles of a perfect good man brought to adversity.
This furthermore leads to the downfall of Willy and his family, proving that Willy Loman is a tragic hero. To conclude, “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller satisfies the criteria for a tragic play because Willy’s pride is a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall. Ultimately, Willy gains enlightenment of his false perception of life and realizes how he inhibits the success of his family. This epiphany leads him to sacrifice himself for the well-being of his family. During his lifetime, Willy’s pride caused him to have an overinflated ego, a bizarre idealistic view on life, and a false value system.
Miller uses the character of Eddie to express his viewpoint that the tragedy of the ruined life of an ordinary workingman is just as significant a subject for tragedy as that of any ancient king, God or "Caesar from Syracuse or Calabria". He presents Eddie as an equally valid antihero. Antiheroes, or Tragic heroes, are as Aristotle wrote neither wholly good nor wholly evil but a mixture of both. Eddie is not an evil man, but he acts selfishly, inappropriately and recklessly. Antiheros, unlike heroes, have fatal flaws.
Even though fate victimizes Oedipus, he is a tragic figure since his own heroic qualities, his loyalty to Thebes, and his fidelity to the truth ruin him. In The Poetics, the greatest statement of classical dramatic theory, Aristotle cites Oedipus as the best example of Greek tragedy. According to Aristotle, Oedipus is a tragic hero because he is not perfect, but has tragic flaws (hamartia). Aristotle points out that Oedipus' tragic flaw is excessive pride (hubris) and self-righteousness. Aristotle also enlightens certain characteristics that determine a tragic hero.
As Pamela Loos says, “Willy Loman fails to understand himself and esteems a career path that goes against who he truly is,” this keeps him from ever being happy with himself. It is easy to see that these problems hurt his personal relationships with Biff and Happy, and they keep them from having a stable family. As the story unfolds, the flaws that each character possesses begin to all come back to Willy, and the way that he conducted his life. Early on in the story, it is clear that the brothers are very different, but each of them shares something with Willy. Biff is the all-american boy, and seems to have everything going for him.
The play “Oedipus Rex”, exemplifies Aristotle’s assertion of a tragic hero by King Oedipus’ explicit flaw of arrogance causing his fall from nobility and high estate. Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero is woven into the plot of “Oedipus Rex”. The criteria for Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero is that a protagonist is “fallible” and of “high estate”, typical a noblemen. (Kennedy and Giola 856) Aristotle’s tragic hero concept has defined the art of tragedies since its conception. Along with Aristotle’s concept, the character Oedipus can be further defined as having “a weakness the Greeks called hubris – extreme pride, leading to overconfidence.” (Kennedy and Giola 857) Oedipus exhibits this personality flaw of hubris throughout the play, and it is the hubris tied with arrogance that causes of his tragic fall from nobility.
In the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus is a classic tragic hero. According to Aristotle's definition, Oedipus is a tragic hero because he is a king whose life falls apart when he finds out his life story. There are a number of characteristics described by Aristotle that identify a tragic hero. For example, a tragic hero must cause his own downfall; his fate is not deserved, and his punishment exceeds the crime; he also must be of noble stature and have greatness. Oedipus is in love with his idealized self, but neither the grandiose nor the depressive "Narcissus" can really love himself (Miller 67).