Willy Loman: Truly Tragic or Plainly Pathetic? Essay

Willy Loman: Truly Tragic or Plainly Pathetic? Essay

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“The goat song” is the original meaning of the word “tragedy.” The word developed when men lined up to offer their goats as sacrifices to their gods. The goats they held or lead realized their fates and began bleating sorrowfully. They mourned that their lives were to be laid down for others; however, Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” gave up his life courageously. Arthur Miller's character, Willy Loman, thought the only way he could help his family was to die. After much defeat Willy reflected on his life and said that he was of more value dead than alive (Miller 2173). Many arguments have been made about Willy's character; is Willy truly tragic or plainly pathetic? Considering all the factors of Willy's life that weighed upon him, the reader should determine that this low man was, indeed, tragic.
Aristotle analyzed drama to form a definition of tragedy. Aristotle considered “Oedipus the King” the perfect tragedy, so he modeled his definition after the play. He decided that there were some factors that made a tragedy: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, melody. The character had to have a tragic flaw that would ultimately lead to his downfall. The traits of tragedy's character defines Willy Loman as a tragic man. Also, a tragedy must have catharsis at the end, and the end of Death of a Salesman cleanses the audience.
Aristotle believed that the protagonist of a tragedy should be “good or fine”. (3) He must be considered a successful man in order for his life to go from good to bad. Willy sold for a living, but he was not prosperous. He borrowed from his neighbor Charley so he could pay for the appliances that were out of his budget. Aristotle would disagree that Willy was a tragic man rather than a pathetic on...


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...help his family in the only way he knew how and that was by his destruction. Willy Loman set out for popularity, but he became a tragedy. He should have taken these verses to heart, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”(King James Version 1 John 2:15-16).


Works Cited

King James Version. Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989. Print.
McManus, Barbera F. “Outline of Aristotle's Theory of Tragedy in the Poetics.” Nov. 1999. Web. 4 Nov. 2011. .
Miller, Arthur. “Death of a Salesman.” The Norton Introduction to Literature 10. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. 495-506. Print.

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