Tragic Hero: Death of a Salesman

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Your opinion is something you believe or accept as true by a person, yet it is your opinion of such a person that determines whether or not you accept their beliefs as true. Is it possible to accept Aristotle’s characteristics of a tragic hero as true and also have your own opinion as to what makes someone a hero? Can something that was written so long ago, still apply to our beliefs today? Willy Loman is no Othello, Lear or Hamlet, who follow Aristotle’s classic and heroic definition of a tragic hero. He is not of noble birth; He is just the average guy. He does however make an error in judgment that leads to his son’s failure and ultimately to his own decline. Willy is having an affair and when Biff finds out, it crushes him. The love between Father and son is destroyed. Biff then decides that he is not going to finish school and therefore does not become successful, which was his Father’s big dream. Aristotle also states that a tragic hero cannot be completely good or completely evil, this is true of Willy. He cannot be considered completely good because he is an adulterer, but he feels guilt for his actions, so he also can’t be considered completely evil. Even though his actions didn’t always support it, he tried very hard to provide the best for his family. Willy also possesses a flaw, schizophrenia, which fits the fourth of Aristotle’s five distinctions. Some symptoms of this disease are: not being able to think clearly, not knowing the difference between real and not real, hallucinations, acting in ways that are strange or out of place, and strange or unusual beliefs. Throughout the play, Willy displays all of these symptoms. He is unable to tell the truth from fantasy or his present from his past. During the play he often loses his train of thought, losing himself in recollections, stopping conversations to talk to someone who isn’t there. He also

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