• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Death of a Salesman. The plays author, Arthur Miller, gradually exposes tragedy throughout the play like a drip feed.

Extracts from this document...


Death of a Salesman. Tragedy is like a strong acid - it dissolves away all but the very gold of truth. Ancient Philosopher Aristotle wrote that 'the purpose of a tragedy was to create pity and fear in the audience'. He also stated that 'the tragic hero should be of elevated status in society, thus making his subsequent fall from grace all the more dramatic.' Rather than being a fall from a great height, Death of a Salesman extends this concept to the ordinary person. This makes it more realistic and therefore creates pity and fear within the audience as the 'ordinary person' may be able to relate to the play on a personal level; the pity and fear felt by the audience may be achieved by them witnessing a fate that they fear for themselves. It could be argued that Willy's lies cloud the truth and tragedy acts like acid to dissolve away these lies until there is nothing but the truth left. At the start of the play Willy is boasting to Linda about his wages, 'I did five hundred gross in Province and seven hundred gross in Boston.' ...read more.


But the protagonist's emotional purification is cut short due to Linda currently reassuring and fuelling this fantasy with comments such as 'you're the handsomest man in the world' and, 'few men are idolised by their children the way you are.' Her persistent compliments lead to Willy believing them himself and arouse pathos in the audience as this confirms he is deluded. Another comment from Linda that leads you to realise the tragic state that Willy is in is during a conversation with Biff and Happy about her husband's condition. She says, 'Attention. Attention must be paid to such a person.' The repetition of the word attention illustrates the desperation in Linda's argument. The actress playing Linda could further portray this desperation by emphasising the repeated word, almost as if she was begging. This would also help to contribute to helping the audience recognise the tragic quality of the play. The idea that Willy, and sometimes Linda, is deluded continues throughout the play. Linda seems to think that a type of fridge is the best and most reliable because it has 'got the biggest ads of any of them!' ...read more.


Aristotle claimed that the 'Hamartia or tragic flaw in the hero's personality caused him to suffer.' In this case Willy's tragic flaw could be that he was not a successful salesman; over time this flaw contributed to problems with money, within the Loman family and eventually to Willy's suicide. This, along with his ignorance in not knowing he is a poor salesman and the refusal to face the truth arouse pity and fear within the audience as it shows us a fate that we fear. The play's author, Arthur Miller, gradually exposes tragedy throughout the play like a drip feed. In a way this is similar to acid as it is slowly and constantly wearing away at something. In this case it is Willy's tragic life and everything is laid bare in the requiem scene. Arthur Miller has written that, 'to me the tragedy of Willy Loman is that he gave his life, or sold it, in order to justify the waste of it.' Here the plays author is implying that the true tragedy is that Willy's life lacked meaning, everything he worked for was ultimately for nothing. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Arthur Miller section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Arthur Miller essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Death of a Salesman: Is Willy Loman a tragic hero or a tragic victim?

    5 star(s)

    It is almost as if Willy is predicting his own ends; he is precariously ready to drop or give up on life throughout many sections of the play. This self-pity is not an admirable quality and is therefore more befitting to a victim than a tragic hero.

  2. Peer reviewed

    How does the Requiem reflect the elements of tragedy explored within Death of a ...

    3 star(s)

    It is this weakness which prohibits him from escaping the "Jungle" of the American Dream, meaning he dies within it; a result of it and as a sacrifice to it, hoping that his death will reveal the "diamonds" he seeks.

  1. Character Analysis - Willy Loman

    This idea is obviously not going to work, so shows his immaturity and how much he doesn't fit in the business world. At the end of act one Biff goes down to the heater and takes away the rubber tubing.

  2. Is Biff the True Hero of Death of a Salesman?

    as he and Linda had finally paid off the mortgage on the house to own it for themselves. Here the audience feel the pain of the tragedy as Linda's words echo at the requiem "We're free...We're free...We're free" (pg108). Willy's fatal flaw, his belief and dedication to the American Dream,

  1. How does Millers handling of time and memory add to our understanding of tragedy ...

    not respecting him by saying "what the hell is the matter with him"). Biff had no grounding from the start as we can see in the mobile concurrency (Willy leading him along by "stealing"), so the next act serves as false hope to the Loman family, the hope that Biff

  2. An Analysis of the Dramatic Impact of the Restaurant Scene in Death of a ...

    Biff leaves in guilt and anguish. Happy claims to the ladies that Willy is not his father, ?he?s just a guy? and then he frantically asks for the bill, Stanley doesn?t respond, so they all leave, and Willy is left babbling in the washroom alone.

  1. How are issues of personal dignity dramatically portrayed in Death of a Salesman?

    initially, despite knowing fullwell that he has had an overall unsuccessful trip, he still boasts to Linda about making lots of money there. Could it be that Willy has false pride? That he is merely pretending to have such success to appear to Linda as very dignified?

  2. Explore the ways in which Miller uses symbolism to emphasise the tragedy in Death ...

    The natural element of this symbol alludes to his father's influence as a flute-maker, and its use during Willy?s introspection could suggest an alternate, more successful life pursuing in craftsmanship instead of being a salesman under the impression of becoming ?well-liked.? It acts as the transition between imagination and reality,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work