Death Of a Salesman Essay

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Arthur Miller’s writing of Death of a Salesman does correctly fit the title of a tragedy because his main character, Willy Loman, does possess the qualities needed to be considered a tragic hero according to modern-day tragic heroes. Hamlet and Oedipus are the well-known tragic heroes from the past. They relate more to Aristotle than Willy Loman does and that is what causes the controversy in these tragedies. Aristotle had written down some of the common tragic hero characteristics for Greek tragedies, but those do not relate to more modern tragedies that have been written. Miller’s main character Willy Loman does deserve to have the title tragic hero. According to the pink handout, “…A new kind of tragic hero was created out of a result of this ‘classical’ definition. The modern hero, it seems, does not necessarily have to be of high estate – but rather an ‘ordinary person’” (Pink Handout). Willy Loman is indeed an ordinary man in Death of a Salesman. He is definitely not born of noble birth either, which is the normal characteristic of a tragic hero, but not so much in the modern day. Aristotle said, “A man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall” (Pink Handout). Willy Loman knows his problem deep down inside, but just doesn’t want to admit he isn’t doing enough to support his family. He thinks he is going through life just fine, and when he is offered other jobs to try to help his situation, he denies them. Charley, Willy’s old-time friend, offers Willy a job because Willy is borrowing money from Charley every week, but he will never work for Charley, “What’s the matter with you? I’ve got a job” (Miller 96). Willy has hope in his two sons, but once he finds out they aren’t going where he wants to see them go, he kills himself. He kills himself because then his family gets twenty thousand dollars in life insurance money, and that will

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