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AS and A Level: Arthur Miller
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- Peer Reviewed essays 3
Firstly, a tragic hero should have a "magnitude or nobility"5 about them. At first glance this would seemingly exclude Willy from the status, however according to Hardison, "noble" does not necessarily imply a high social status, but rather a "larger than life"6 quality. The fact that Willy's visions are of such a great grandeur, especially where his sons are concerned, ("You guys together could absolutely lick the civilised world.") along with the constant gesticulations that accompany his exclamations, all support the idea that Willy Loman is indeed a "larger than life" character.
- Word count: 1832
Willy Loman is a struggling salesman around the age of sixty. He lives with his wife Linda and two sons Biff and Happy. Willy does not fit the usual criteria established by Shakespearean or Aristotelian tragedies. Firstly, he is not of noble birth, although in the play Miller makes a link known to the audience because Willy is made to appear of noble birth as he is in fact referred to as, "a prince", by his son. Miller commented, "I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were".2 This gives us clear insight why Willy is still a tragic hero even if he is not of high social ranking or status.
- Word count: 1625
Whilst Milton would have deplored this "introducing of trivial and vulgar persons [into tragedy]", Miller dismissed all criticism of his choice of hero, demanding his accusers to recognise "it matters not whether the hero falls from a great height or a small one", or as Linda puts it, "he's not the finest character who ever lived. But he's a human being and a terrible thing is happening to him" the importance then, lies in the way and reason for which the character falls.
- Word count: 1904