Willy Loman, Redefining the Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

Willy Loman, Redefining the Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

Length: 1075 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Willy Loman, Redefining the Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
 

    The events in the life of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman are no doubt tragic, yet whether or not he can be considered a tragic hero in a traditional sense is a topic requiring some discussion. Aristotle set the criteria for qualities a character must possess in order to be considered a tragic hero. In order to reach a conclusion on this matter, all six criteria must be examined to determine whether or not they are present in the character of Willy Loman.

The first criterion for a tragic hero is hamartia, or a tragic flaw in the character's personality that brings about their downfall. Willy Loman definitely does possess a tragic flaw, and in his case it is pride. Loman cannot accept that he is a terrible salesman, a substandard provider, and suffering from mental illness. He borrows money every week from Charley, his neighbor, so that he can tell his family stories of his successful sales trips.

While Willy definitely does possess a tragic flaw, another criterion required by Aristotle is peripeteia, a character's reversal near the end of the story for the purpose of self-reservation. Willy definitely does not meet this criterion. When Willy is terminated from his job late in the story, Charley offers him a job working for him, but feeling too much pride, Willy turns it down, saying he's already got a job. He turns down a chance to make a decent means to finish paying off his house and refrigerator, but turns it down because of his stubborn pride.

A tragic hero must have a mix of both good and bad qualities, predominantly good, so that they are more of a character that readers could relate ...


... middle of paper ...


...Sons in which the main characters are somewhat like tragic heroes but lack the high standing. They are all just common people, which might lead to the idea that Arthur Miller tried to create a mold for an American tragic hero. This however, is not a topic relevant to this assignment. So overall, Willy Loman is not a tragic hero, but just an unlucky man destined to be the Low Man.

Sources

Field, B.S.  "Death of a Salesman" Twentieth Century Literature.  January, 1972. 19-24.  Rpt. in World Literary Criticism.  Ed. Frank Magill.   "Arthur Miller" Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.  2366-2368.

Hoeveler, D. J.  "Redefining the Tragic Hero Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman: Modern Critical Interpretations.  Ed. Harold Blum.  Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1988. 72-81.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Gerald Weales, ed. New York: Penguin, 1996

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Defining The Definition Of A Tragic Hero Essay example

- Redefining the definition of a tragic hero Arthur Miller, the author of the essay titled “Tragedy and the Common Man” examines the definition of tragedy. Miller was also the playwright of “Death of a Salesman” which psychologically exploits a common man attempting to encapture the American dream. Miller’s theory pushes the limitation on the ideal of a tragic hero examined in these two pieces of literature. The following paragraphs will evaluate characteristics of a protagonist character named Willy Loman, examining his status in society, shortcomings and his choice to sacrifice his own life for his dignity....   [tags: Tragedy, Tragic hero, Poetics]

Strong Essays
855 words (2.4 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- “Death of a Salesman’s main character, Willy Loman, is an open book”, Wade Bradford states in his theatrical review of Arthur Miller 's play. It may be true that this is a tragedy about Willy Loman, a mediocre salesman for 34 years who refuses to accept reality. At 60, he is cast aside from society, his usefulness exhausted and as a result, Loman commits suicide. In reality, this is a story how the house of cards collapses if you constantly lie to yourself. From my perspective Willie Loman is not an open book....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, Life]

Strong Essays
763 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: Willy Loman is NOT a Tragic Hero

- Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: Willy Loman is NOT a Tragic Hero In The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, it is argued weather that Willy Loman is a tragic hero. There are cases for both classifications of Willy. By definition, a tragic hero is a person born into nobility, is responsible for their own fate, endowed with a tragic flaw, and doomed to make a serious error in judgment. The tragic hero eventually falls from great esteem. They realize they have made an irreversible mistake, faces death with honor, and dies tragically....   [tags: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
984 words (2.8 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- Author and Era: Death of a Salesman, the “first great American Tragedy,” is a 1949 play written by American playwright Arthur Miller. Miller is known for being a true activist, supporting and participating in many liberal issues, including the civil rights struggle and the protest against the Vietnam War. The basis for Death of a Salesman lies in Arthur Miller’s relationship with his uncle Manny Newman, a salesman. Miller expresses Manny’s emotions through Willy Loman, the main protagonist. In successfully doing so, Miller has been deemed an American who understands the true nature and values of the United States (Bloom)....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
1292 words (3.7 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- The American Dream In Death of a Salesman, written by American playwright Arthur Miller, focuses on Biff’s relationship towards his father Willy Loman. He plays the role that drives most of Willy’s thoughts and actions, specifically his memories. Whenever Willy is not able to accept the present, he reverts to the past where Biff is usually nearby. Before Willy’s trip to Boston, Biff admired his father. He trusted and believed his philosophy that any person can be successful, provided that he is “well-liked”....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
1097 words (3.1 pages)

The Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is a play about Willy Loman and his loving family. The Allegory of the Cave is a symbol for the differences between thought up ideas and what we see as reality. Plato’s main idea is to show us that what we see in the real world is not everything we actually see even if it’s not visibly apparent to us. The Allegory informs us how the world is a mysterious and dark cave, how us humans live as trapped enclosed prisoners unable to do anything, and everything we go through as experiences are shadows casted on the wall....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
2322 words (6.6 pages)

Essay about Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller

- Multiple forms of parent and child relations are portrayed throughout the play Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller. Throughout the play, it is seen that Willy Loman and his son 's relationship is all over with its ups and downs; this also occurs with Willy’s wife, Linda, and their sons. Also, other parent and child relations are seen throughout the play with Charley and his son Bernard, which can also be seen as another type of peculiar relationship. In Death of a Salesman, relationships between child and parent can be analyzed by the changes, differences and the effects it had on the people....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Family, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
831 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

- Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Many times while reading modern literature you will hear reference to the “American Dream”. What the various authors and or readers must decide is whether or not this is a true goal. There are many arguments that state that the “American Dream” is a figment of imagination. There are others that believe this is an attainable goal. One of the discussions that is held is what the true definition of the “American Dream” is. There are beliefs that think money and power are the ideal things to strive for....   [tags: Arthur Miller Death Salesman]

Strong Essays
1761 words (5 pages)

Essay on Arthur Miller's Death of Saleman

- Arthur Miller's Death of Saleman On February 10, 1949, at the Morosco Theatre in New York, Death of a Salesman opened. It was immediately acclaimed as a perfect blend of script, setting, staging, and acting. The New Yorker called the play a mixture of "compassion, imagination, and hard technical competence not often found in our theater." Death of a Salesman swept the award field in 1949, winning the Drama Critics' Circle award, the Tony, Theatre Club, and Front Page awards, as well as the much-coveted Pulitzer Prize....   [tags: Arthur Miller's Death of Saleman]

Free Essays
3354 words (9.6 pages)

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essays

- Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman was written after the second World War while the American economy was booming. Society was becoming very materialistic, and the idea that anyone could “make it” in America was popular. These societal beliefs play a large part in Death of a Salesman, a play in which the main character, Willy Loman, spends a lifetime chasing after the American Dream. Willy was sold on the wrong dream. He was enamored with a myth of American ideals and chose to put aside his real talents in pursuit of a fantasy....   [tags: Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller Essays]

Strong Essays
2006 words (5.7 pages)