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

"Oedipus is an odd kind of hero, who shares many of Willy Loman's weaknesses; Willy is an odd kind of anti-hero, who displays a similar nobility of character to that which we see in Oedipus. Indeed, Willy may be said to be even more of a tragic hero than

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Oedipus is an odd kind of hero, who shares many of Willy Loman's weaknesses; Willy is an odd kind of anti-hero, who displays a similar nobility of character to that which we see in Oedipus. Indeed, Willy may be said to be even more of a tragic hero than Oedipus for, while there appears to be little sense in Oedipus's self mutilation, Willy's suicide shows that he is willing to die for what he believes in and sacrifice himself for the good of others." The central characters of "Oedipus The King" and "Death of a Salesman"; Oedipus and Willy Loman, appear to have a lot in common despite the fact the plays were written almost two and half thousand years apart. Both men have been classed as tragic heroes; however, there are many who would argue that Oedipus is and Willy is not, or even that neither of them could really be classed as a tragic hero. In order to decide whether or not either of them are really tragic heroes, one must first know about the definitions of a tragic hero. There are many variations in these definitions which have been developing for more than two thousand years. The weaknesses and strengths of character both Oedipus and Willy Loman display have a role in them being awarded tragic hero status but their fate at the end of the plays is also a key element. ...read more.

Middle

In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is ready to, and eventually does, lay down his life to secure is sense of personal dignity therefore in a modern sense he can be seen as a tragic hero. The statement that "Willy is an odd kind of anti-hero" can be justified as the anti-hero is described as "a persona characterized by a lack of "traditional" heroic qualities" and when Willy's character is compared with the criteria set out by Aristotle, this is indeed the case. A 1950's audience would have been able to empathize with Willy much more easily than with Oedipus. In fact, Arthur Miller recalls watching members of an audience cry when the curtain came down on Death of a Salesman. One could argue that Willy Loman is a modern hero with whom the modern world can relate to which would make him seem to be even more of a tragic hero than Oedipus who lived in an era which was so different. Both Oedipus and Willy Loman have several weaknesses and some of these can be interpreted as their "fatal flaws" or hamartia, as Aristotle calls them. These weaknesses serve to highlight the humanity of both characters but for different reasons. Oedipus's weaknesses make him more than a king in a world where power was everything and Willy's weaknesses make him more than a number in the American capitalist system. ...read more.

Conclusion

In contrast, Oedipus's self-mutilation seems pointless and his flaws and incest tarnish his nobility. Modern audiences empathize with the "common man" and the issues he deals with, such as; financial difficulty, moral issues and mental illness whereas not many audiences can empathize with an ancient Greek myth about a man who murdered his father and married his mother. However, Oedipus could be said to be more of a tragic hero because the idea that Willy died for his beliefs is not well-founded. Didn't Willy commit suicide to escape the world he could not cope with and for financial gain? He took and easy way out and received no respect for it; only his family and neighbour came to the funeral in the Requiem of Death of a Salesman. Exile was worse than death for Oedipus; not only did he have to cope with losing his wife because of what he did, he had to lose his children as well. It takes tremendous strength of character to live with the shame Oedipus has and for this he is respected. In conclusion, both Willy Loman and Oedipus are portrayed as tragic heroes, albeit in very different times where the important things in society are worlds apart. The answer to the question of whether Oedipus or Willy make a more credible tragic hero is a matter of opinion as both characters possess some of the features of the tragic hero of their time. ...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 Other Criticism & Comparison 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 Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    When he finally got to El Taj, the English soldiers surrounded him and took him away, refusing to listen to his story about an injured woman who was just seventy miles away. Caravaggio asks the patient why the English would not believe him.

  2. Is Titus Andronicus a tregic hero

    He wanted to suffer with the people because he loves them so and he wanted to feel the pain they were going through. This can make him stronger in fight and learns to fight better in order to not lose the dear ones.

  1. In what ways are Gatsby and George Wilson similar or dissimilar, to whom is ...

    This was all a means though of achieving his distorted version of the American Dream, which was to retrieve Daisy. Importantly, he does not abide by the 'protestant work ethic' which states that a man should work hard and earn a comfortable living by which he and his family can live a peaceful, enjoyable life off.

  2. Compare and contrast American playwrights presentation of masculinity in Death of a Salesman, Whos ...

    More evidence of Linda?s love for Willy is when he starts scolding her for ?taking Biff?s side all the time. Linda not only accepts it but blames Biff for protecting her, asking him why did he ?have to start that for?.

  1. Are Othello and Anakin Skywalker Tragic Heroes?

    His relationship with the Chancellor allows him to become the youngest person to sit on the ruling body of the Jedi, the Jedi Council, despite the objections of other influential Jedi. The character Yoda responds to Anakin's appointment by saying, "Allow this appointment lightly, the Council does not.

  2. The role of the Hero in American literature changes depending on internal and external ...

    to find a better life. This is most evident in the cowboy novels and movies that were abundant at the time. During the Vietnam war we see a strong anti war movement , the 1960's became a time for sexual empowerment , experimentation, there was a bigger focus on individual freedoms( escape from the draft)

  1. The common theme of "Hamlet" and "Oedipus the King" is regicide, and self- destruction ...

    He then marries the Queen and rules over the kingdom. In the end, the city is threatened by a plague that the oracle said will cease when the city gets rid of the one who murdered the king, Oedipus announces that the murderer will be punished.

  2. The Discoverie of Guiana by Walter Ralegh. A Necessary Failure: Ralegh and the ...

    This fluctuating nature of the court is illustrated in his poem ?Farewell to the Court,? where he recognizes that Elizabeth?s affections and the courtly life are both fickle and all-consuming In the poem, Ralegh?s ?love misled, and fancy quite retired/ Of all which passed the sorrow only stays? .

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