Miller created fear by creating a character that people can relate to. The fact that Willy is a common man reinforces the fear in the audience, because he is more relatable then a king. You feel pity because throughout his life Willy live blindly with lost dreams and hopes. The purpose of a tragic hero, is to create both pity and fear on the audience, to teach a lesson to the audience .Willy is a tragic hero, Willy is not perfect, and he has a distorted set of values. Sadly Willy cause his own downfall, his meaningless pride, his “tragic flaw” blinded him from seeing the truth, but his flaw thought a lesson to the audience.
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.
His false dreams and skewed sense of reality led him to believe that following his true passion, carpentry, was not a conventional way of life. Willy’s true passion for carpentry and not sales can be evidenced in the quote, “There’s more Willy in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made” (Miller, 22). Willy mainly constructed his fantasy as a means of coping with his personal failures, for he had the “wrong dreams. All, all wrong” (Miller ?). In Willy’s deluded state, he lied to his family, regularly lying to them of his success at work.
In conclusion, B.S. Field Jr.’s analysis is an interesting take on Willy Loman’s affect on his sons, as a crime requiring punishment, but it does not go far enough to see all the implications of his crime or depth of his crime. Not only has he corrupted both his sons, he has only gifted suffering to his wife all in a vain attempt to be a successful well liked man who is treated better than others, without earning their respect. Due to everything his family has went through over the years, Willy Loman’s crime will extend past his life through his children who share his defects and through the pain his wife can’t escape.
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 finale that Miller deftly crafted for this play is filled with a dramatic irony that leaves the reader thinking. In the end the wrong has been avenged, and the inner and outer circles -family and society - have come crashing together. Even though Miller is slow to establish his main theme in the exposition, once set, the main themes develop into powerful messages that hold meaning for all: if one cannot look beyond their personal circle, they are condemned to an ignorant existence ended by a tragic moment of realization. Joe Keller goes through this slow, and painful, process of realization. It has been hard work for Keller to maintain his blind ignorance toward his crime, and his guilt; however, despite his efforts, his tainted past is continually creeping into his sacred inner circle, the only world that Keller allows himself to recognize.
For Oedipus, pride causes him to search for the truth in his hidden past, inadvertently causing him to be the instrument of his own downfall. Willy’s pride causes him to live in an unrealistic past, preventing him from seeing what he currently has instead of what he doesn’t, leading to a vain death. Lastly, the sense of pride exhibited by Willy and Oedipus and how it affects their past extends on to the ones closest to them. For Willy, his pride and past is forced onto his sons, and to some extent their mother, while for Oedipus his search for truth in the past leads to the undoing of his own wife and mother. Pride deludes the way Oedipus and Willy see their past, affecting how their current life is, leading to their tragic end.
Willy's behavior is pierced with contradictions, the only thing that stays the same is Willy is his error. From the very beginning of the book, Willy exposes this tendency and he calls Biff a "lazy bum" but then faces himself with “And such a hard worker.” The real truth about Biff that is true and that is he is not lazy." Willy's contradictions often confuse the readers however, they soon become a trademark of his character. Willy's shifting behavior is the result of his inability to accept reality and his tendency to manipulate or remember the past in an attempt to escape the present. For instance, Willy cannot quit himself to the fact that Biff no longer respects him because of Willy's affair.
Death of a Salesman Death of a Salesman starts out as a simple play. However, quickly turns into a struggle of Willy Loman trying to escape the falsehood of the American Dream. Miller uses Willy as a tragic example of what would happen to the common man if they fail to depict what is achievable. “ Tragedy arises when we are in the presence of a man who has missed accomplishing his joy.” It is evident that Willy has opportunities to escape from his false reality, but he is so brainwashed and focused on becoming important he cannot change. Miller uses Willy and his eldest son Biff to demonstrate how having the struggle to gain power over others can destroy the common man.
After everything, Willy has in the end installed his own contradictory ideas into his children. In brief, it is apparent that Willy’s own actions led to not only his own demise, but his children’s as well. The salesman tragically misinterpreted the American Dream for only the superficial qualities of beauty, likeability and prosperity. Perhaps if Willy had been more focused on the truth of a person’s character, rather than purely physical aspects, his family’s struggles and his own suicide could have been avoided. On the whole, Arthur Miller’s play is evidence that the search for any dream or goal is not as easy and the end result may seem.