Willy Loman is No Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

  • :: 3 Works Cited
  • Length: 812 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Willy Loman is No Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman


In Arthur Miller’s essay about “Tragedy and the Common Man,” he argues that the common man is as appropriate a subject for tragedy as the very highly placed kings and noble men. Mankind keeps tragedy above all forms because they are given the same mental abilities as the nobles. In “Death of a Salesman”, Willy Loman is a common man and a middle class worker, enough saving to provide food for his family. So if the tragic hero can be a common man, does Willy fit in that category? Even though he is a common man he fails to live up to the standards of being a tragic hero because he never accepts nor admits to his own errors. He, therefore, loses his dignity. One of his biggest errors is his failure of be a good father.

Willy Loman’s character is capable of making errors. He believes he is a very successful salesman and well liked. He also thinks that the company likes what he is doing. He once said, “I’m the New England man. I am vital in New England” (Miller pg. 32) Because of his false belief about his success Howard fired him. After he got fired charley offered him a job, but he refuses to accept, because he is too proud and jealous to work for Charley. His actions were wrong because at no time was a successful salesman. He is not a powerful character. Willy lives in his fantasies where he is the man. Who goes out to another place and comes out rich, he is love by everyone and admired by his family. In real life, he is lazy and does not live up to his own ideals. “As Aristotle explains, a tragic hero must be one of noble character and must fall from power and happiness.”(Www.ccd.rightchoice.org/lit115/poetics.html) but Willy neither has a noble characteristic nor does he fall from power because he does not have a position of power.

According to Miller, a tragic hero is someone who dies for personal dignity. Willy does die for his dignity. “Those who act against the scheme of things that degrades them.”(Miller. Tragedy of the Common Man) Willy, in his ideas and action of committing suicide, fits in that category. In act 2, Willy reveals his desires to win back Biff’s respect by committing suicide.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Willy Loman is No Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Jun 2018
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=20124>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Essay on Willy Loman is No Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman - Willy Loman is No Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman In Arthur Miller’s essay about “Tragedy and the Common Man,” he argues that the common man is as appropriate a subject for tragedy as the very highly placed kings and noble men. Mankind keeps tragedy above all forms because they are given the same mental abilities as the nobles. In “Death of a Salesman”, Willy Loman is a common man and a middle class worker, enough saving to provide food for his family. So if the tragic hero can be a common man, does Willy fit in that category....   [tags: Death of a Salesman Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
812 words
(2.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Willy Loman as Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essay - Willy Loman as Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman   The business world of today isn't all `peaches and cream'. The harsh reality of the business world is people are mostly interested in one thing, money. This reoccurring trait we have seen has plagued the business world for a millennia. As seen in the play Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman, the main-character, falls victim to this evil trait. Willy always a hard-worker was fired for his lack of profit for the company he worked for....   [tags: Death Salesman essays] 829 words
(2.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
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       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....   [tags: Death Salesman essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1075 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay Willy Loman, the Modern Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman - In Arthur Miller’s essay “Tragedy and the Common Man”, a picture is painted of a “flaw-full” man, known as the modern hero of tragedies. Miller describes what characteristics the modern tragic hero possesses and how he differs from the heroes depicted by classic Greek playwrights such as Sophocles and Aristotle. In order to understand how drastically the modern hero has evolved, one must first understand the basic characteristics that the heroes created by Sophocles and Aristotle encompass. The Greek tragic heroes, otherwise known as the protagonists, illustrated by tragic Greek playwrights, were never normal people....   [tags: Death of a Salesman 2014]
:: 3 Works Cited
1745 words
(5 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Willy Loman as a Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essay - Willy Loman as a Tragic Hero in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Should 'Willy Loman' of Arthur Millers classic, Death of a Salesman be regarded as a tragic hero, or merely a working-class, socially inadequate failure. Described by Miller as a "self-destructive, insecure anti-hero", it seems almost impossible for Loman to be what is known as a tragic hero in the 'classical' sense, but with the inclusion of other factors he maybe a tragic hero, at least in the modern context, or partially suit one nonetheless....   [tags: Papers] 1220 words
(3.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Willy Loman as Tragic Hero of Death of a Salesman Essay - Willy Loman as Tragic Hero of Death of a Salesman     Willy Loman, the title character of the play, Death of Salesman, exhibits all the characteristics of a modern tragic hero. This essay will support this thesis by drawing on examples from Medea by Euripedes, Poetics by Aristotle, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, while comments by Moss, Gordon, and Nourse reinforce the thesis.             Death of Salesman, by Arthur Miller, fits the characteristics of classic tragedy....   [tags: Death Salesman essays Arthur Miller]
:: 7 Works Cited
1530 words
(4.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Is Willy Loman a Tragic Hero in "Death of Salesman Essay - Willy Loman’s character in Death of a Salesman portrays him as a tragic hero. Willy Loman continued to want his recognition and his reputation but never forgets about his family. These characteristics describe him as a tragic hero in Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman’s tragic flow leads him to purse the idea that reputation in society has more relevancies in life than knowledge and education to survive in the business. His grand error of wanting recognition drove him crazy and insane and lead to his tragic death....   [tags: Arthur Miller, literary analysis]
:: 4 Works Cited
1294 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Presentation of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller - The Presentation of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Willy Loman is presented as both a tragic hero and an unconscious victim in "Death of a Salesman". "Death of a Salesman" is very much based upon the American Dream, and whether we are slaves or conquerors of this dream. This is an idea that the playwright Arthur Miller has very passionately pursued both through Willy's own eyes, and through his interaction with the different characters in the play. Firstly, the definitions of a hero and a victim very much influence the way that Willy is viewed by the audience....   [tags: Papers Willy Loman Death Salesman] 2041 words
(5.8 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Willy Loman's Depression in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essay - Willy Loman's Depression in Death of a Salesman   Arthur Miller's, "Death of a Salesman," shows the development and structure that leads up to the suicide of a tragic hero, Willy Loman. The author describes how an American dreamer can lose his self-worth by many negative situations that occur throughout his life. The structure and complications are essential because it describes how a man can lose his way when depression takes over. The first comlication which occurs in Act I, is when the reader acknowledges that Willy put his whole life into his sons, Biff and Happy, and they turned their backs on him....   [tags: Death Salesman essays] 631 words
(1.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Willy Loman as a Tragic Hero in Death of a Salesman Essay - Willy Loman as Tragic Hero in Death of a Salesman Willy Loman, the troubled father and husband in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, can be classified as a tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle in his work, Poetics. In Aristotle's Poetics, a tragic hero was defined as one who falls from grace into a state of extreme despair. Willy, as we are introduced to him, becomes increasingly miserable as he progresses from a dedicated, loving father, though not without flaws, into a suicidal, delusional man....   [tags: Death Salesman essays] 927 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]

Related Searches




During one of his illusions, he says that “ Ben that funeral will be massive…that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realize I am known” (Miller pg. 126). In trying to persuade Biff that their father is a great man, Willy will not accept any challenge to his dignity. He refuses to realize that the ideals he set for himself and for Biff are false and that he in fact is not loved by all. When Biff tries to tell him this, he does not listen to his son. If he accepts the idea that he needs to let go of his pride, then he can reach the condition of being informed. He does not concede and accept the consequences, Willy is, therefore, not a tragic hero, only a failure.

Willy is not a good father for many reasons. First, he makes his job his first priority. His travels were extensive. He did not have the opportunity to get to know his sons. As a result, he did not love them like a father should. His love for Biff is based on his achievement as an athlete and when Biff loses the scholarship, Willy was so mad that he no longer loved Biff as he once did. Willy wants Biff to be successful like his brother Ben. Furthermore Willy is unable to admit his faults because he has too much pride. In all his mistakes, Willy fails to be a good father. Instead he is crazy selfish failure. Later on, this aspect of his was defined as a failure.

By studying the character of Willy Loman carefully it is evident that he is not a tragic hero. He neglects his responsibilities as a father. He is not truthful, and this leads to loss of his pride and dignity. Willy is blinded by his pride that he did not realize the consequences of his actions. Unlike a true tragic hero, Willy does not admit his own errors and his false pride.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Koon, Helene Wickham, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Death of a Salesman. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice, 1983.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Literature. Ed. Sylvan Bates New York: Longman, 1997. 1163-1231.

Miller, Arthur. "Tragedy and the Common Man." Weales, Gerald, ed. Death of a Salesman: Text and Criticism. New York: Penguin Books 1996.

Parker, Brian. "Tragedy in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman." University of Toronto Quarterly 35 (1966): 144-47. Rpt. in Koon. 41-55

www.ccd.rightchoice.org/lit115/poetics.html


Return to 123HelpMe.com