Comparing Death of a Salesman to the Great Gatsby

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DEATH OF A SALESMAN In the play, Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is, at first, set up as the character of the tragic hero. He has had goals and ambitions that he did not fulfill, and that his sons have not fulfilled, despite the pressure that he puts on them to accomplish his opinion of what success should be. However, as the story moves along, we see Willy’s tragic hero status decreasing substantially. As he desperately sifts through his past for some sort of actualization or realization, he only proves himself a to be failure, by the standards that he himself had set. There are a great many comparisons to be drawn from this play, and compared to the novel, The Great Gatsby. However, the main one is that both pieces of literature showcase the downfall of the main protagonist Willy has a very skewed idea of what success is. He believes that shallow, superficial values, such as physical appearance and surface level likeability, are the full measure of how a person succeeds. This veritable blindness keeps him from recognizing or appreciating his family, and the few good things in his life. An example of this is the scene where Wally is celebrating his son’s likeability, popularity, and athleticism in a flashback to Biff’s high school days. Willy openly scoffs at Bernard’s seemingly nerdy and introverted manner, although most would argue that intelligence and hard work are the best markers for future achievement. However, when we meet Bernard in the present day, he is the definition of success. Wally’s value system is a shallow one, where honesty and intellectual talent are second string to beauty and popularity. This juxtaposition of a boy who was formerly Willy’s definition of the opposite of success, finding success, while his own formerly popular, good-looking son did not was hard for Wally to stomach. As well as this, his brother Ben’s diamond mining efforts
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