Aeschylus (Greek tragic dramatist, 525BC-456BC) said, “For this is tyranny’s disease, to trust no friends”. This is exactly what Julius Caesar should have done; not trusted his friends. In Julius Caesar written by William Shakespeare, it is often debated who deserves the role of the tragic hero is this tragedy. Caesar’s tragic flaws do lead to his death, but Brutus is the obvious tragic hero. Although Brutus has the characteristics of a great man such as; nobility, idealism and honesty, what makes him the tragic hero of Julius Caesar is his unassuming sincerity and trust.
For example,Oedipus from Oedipus The King by Sophocles is a well thorough example of a tragic hero, as well as Okonkwo from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Both characters are heroic and important people in their societies as well as admired by readers through the imagery of their action. However, the flaw that each of them have ruins their lives and drives them into pain. Oedipus is a mythical Greek king of a city named Thebes, he fulfills a prophecy that said he would kill his father, and thereby brings a disaster on his city and family. Okonkwo, on the other hand, is a wealthy and a well respected warrior of the Umofian clan, a lower Nigerian tribe who gives effort to develop into a powerful and successful person, nevertheless ends up self murdered and doomed as an evil spirit.
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.
He lies and lives on the road degrading himself in every way to attain the friendship with the most people. Willy’s severe dementia cements him as unreliable early on in the play, and it also explains some of the resentment his family feels towards him. Willy is so obsessed with succeeding in the business world and being “well liked” (Act 1, Scene 2) he can’t except that his life in general has been a failure. He replays moments in his life when the world brought nothing but promise and his sons were talented young athletes with their whole lives a head of him. Willy drifts fluidly in between reality and fantasy fluidly sometimes having two conversations at once.
According to Aristotle’s hypothesis of a tragic hero the character must be of some form of nobility, suffer from some form of error in judgment, go through a period of reversed fortune, and finally recognize that the error was actually caused by his own actions. The concept of tragedy is deeply embedded into both plays however
Ambition, moral weakness and selective perception, would be the major flaws of our character, Macbeth. These flaws eventually lead to his death in the long run. Macbeth began in a high position and throughout the play, there were losses caused by his own weaknesses in personality. There is pre-evidence of Macbeth’s inborn ambition in the beginning of the play in the fact that he has a future of position as the Thane of Glaims. However, further evidence of this trait comes in his reaction to the prophecies of the three witches, in which many others would have avoided because of their obvious affiliation with evil.
Although the play is referred to as "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar" Caesar was partly at fault for his own death. His arrogant attitude towards Romans and his self centered attitude brought an early death upon him. Caesar received many warnings which may have saved his life but unfortunately hubris got the best of him and Caesar was brought down. Arrogance is defined as "offensive display of superiority or self importance and overwhelming pride". This was the character of Caesar in a single sentence.
All simple, but major character flaws that can seriously affect one’s life. But what about tragic flaws? A tragic flaw is a character flaw so sensitive that it eventually results in a very unfortunate fate. “Antigone” is a Shakespearean Tragedy due to the tragic hero’s tragic flaw of ignorance that causes blind actions, which leads to unnecessary deaths, and finally an epic downfall. Creon, the tragic hero, performs actions with a very clouded judgment.
Tragic heroes climb to the pinnacle of success and then experience a dramatic fall to their doom. “Death of a Salesman,” written by Arthur Miller, Willy Loman, a sympathetic salesman and despicable father who’s “life is a casting off” has some traits that match a tragic hero. Willy depicts a common American in search of the American Dream. His troubled personality, the financial woes, and his inability to support his families’ needs are the substantial flaws that lead to his tragic demise. Willy is an aging salesman who can’t sell anything.
But when does this white lie turn black? When does it become detrimental to one’s self, and ultimately ‘crush’ a person? In Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’, Willy is both literally and figuratively ‘crushed’ as a result of his own self-deception. His steadfast belief in the American Dream ultimately leads him to suicide and physical destruction, as a result of his own mental deterioration. However, as we all know that life is not simply black and white, we are able to see that the lies in the play not only affect Willy, but also the people around him, especially poor Biff.