To What Extent Is Willy Loman a Tragic Hero?

1411 Words6 Pages
To what extent is Willy Loman a tragic hero? 'Death of a Salesman' is a dramatic tragedy written by Arthur Miller in 1949. The play revolves around the father of a dysfunctional urban family, Willy Loman, and explores his corrupted view of the American Dream. DoaS was written at a pivotal point in America's history: WWII had just ended, resulting in a massive expansion in the economy, which in turn led to a boom in consumerism. Miller believed that the shift in the American Dream, into one based entirely on the acquisition of material possessions, was derogatory to society as a whole; it was impossible for everyone to become 'successful' in 1950s America, yet the pressures of consumerism were nonetheless suffered by all. One of the main arguments against Willy being thought of as a tragic hero is that he doesn't undergo all of Aristotle's 'concepts of tragedy'. For example, Willy doesn't experiences a sudden reversal of fortune (Peripeteia) in the play. Though it could be argued that the omission of Peripeteia is to emphasise the hoplessness of Willy's situation with the intention of evoking pity from the audience, adding to the cathartic effect. This lack of sudden change wouldn't also fit in with the play's stark and down-to-earth style; demoralisation of a man is far more commonly a slow-acting process, and an attempt to adhere to Aristotle's decree would have been ultimately detrimental to Miller's fundamental aim for DoaS: to create a play relevant to 'every man' of his time. Willy's 'Harmartia' (fatal flaw) is his unwavering belief in the American Dream and his innate stubbornness. He refuses to accept the unconditional love of his family (in particular, Linda) and instead tries to 'win them over' as he would a customer. He appears to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the world works. His perception of the world may have been

More about To What Extent Is Willy Loman a Tragic Hero?

Open Document