Willy Loman As A Tragic Hero Analysis

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A tragic hero is defined by as “a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy”. In the novel Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman has consistently displayed elements that lead the reader to believe that he is a tragic hero whose death is a result of following the wrong dreams. A character must show elements including a fatal flaw, an external force that provokes his downfall, and a fatal event to be considered a tragic hero. Willy’s fatal flaw can be considered his desire to live in the past and his belief that reputation means everything in the business world. His external force is the change in the nature of business: success through reputation no longer holds true, eventually leading to Howard firing Willy. The last element is that Willy died with the fatal event of his suicide due to the fact that he believed it was a last resort towards his dream. Through the use of these characteristic and thematic elements, Miller is able to craft, to an extent, Willy into a tragic hero whose death was the consequence of his delusions of his dream.
Willy Loman’s delusional dream continuously brings him into the past because he cannot accept that conditions of his current life. Willy incorrectly thinks that “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it — because personality always wins the day”, which is absolutely not true and causes him to be a poor role model for his children (Miller 65). It also leads his Howard firing him, which is nicely described as the “The underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain his ‘rightful’ position in his society” (Miller 144). The fact that Willy is not able to adapt with society and a...

... middle of paper ... in terms of the American Dream because he committed suicide, he mostly embodies the elements that make him a tragic hero.
Miller is about to show that through specific characteristic and thematic elements that Willy is indeed a tragic hero whose demise was an product of the misconceptions of his salesman’s dream. Due to Willy’s delusional dream, he is unable accept the reality he lives in causing him to live in the past. Since he cannot accept reality, society and the very nature of business is changing around him and he is incapable of realizing where his failures lie. Willy’s last resort of committing suicide is a result of his inability to adapt to and accept reality. While Willy displays elements of a tragic hero, many can argue that he is more of a pathetic man than he is a tragic hero, but ultimately his desire to become a successful salesman is his demise.
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