It has been stated that the audience needs to have mixed feelings about the destruction of a human being for a play to be a tragedy. To establish Death of A Salesman as a tragedy, we must demonstrate that not only does the audience feel sadness due to Willy’s demise, but also they feel that justice has been exacted on Willy for his behavior. As this is the case I will first examine the reasons why the audience feels sadness for Willy, and then go on to see why it is that the audience also feels that Willy deserves the punishment which fate hands him.
It is obvious throughout Death of A Salesman that Willy Loman’s life is bad, and that it is getting worse, despite Willy’s dreams and aspirations. His first major problem is with his job. From the very first scene we see that all is not well. Willy has returned from a work trip the same day as setting out for it, and it is made obvious that this is not the first occurrence of an incident of this type. Thus the audience is aware that Willy has problems with his job, and it is not long before they find out that Willy having trouble getting to work is the least of his problems. The real problem lies at work itself. It appears that despite all of Willy’s bragging, he is not actually a very successful salesman (the lack of people at his funeral perhaps indicates not only that he isn’t one, but also that he never was a particularly good one in the first place). He has in fact been ‘borrowing’ money from Charley to make Linda think that he is still successful. Willy lies so often about his work (as well as other things), that he has almost made himself believe his own lies, and one of the only indications to the contrary is...
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...acter in the play inspires several different sentiments, including Linda who despite being loyal is too subservient for her own good, and Biff, who despite the fact that he is honest and has good intentions, is too direct to help matters very much.
Eisinger, Chester E. "Focus on Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman': The Wrong Dreams," in American Dreams, American Nightmares, (1970 rpt In clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1976 vol. 6:331
Foster, Richard J. (Confusion and Tragedy: The Failure of Miller's 'Salesman' (1959) rpt in clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1983 vol. 26:316
Gardner, R. H. ("Tragedy of the Lowest Man," in his Splintered Stage: (1965) rpt in clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1983 vol. 2l6:320
Gordon, Lois "Death of a Salesman": An Appreciation, in the Forties: 1969) rpt in clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1983 vol. 26:323
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