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

Was Willy Loman a tragic hero or not?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Nikesh Kumar 1/23/03 Period 3 Was Willy Loman a tragic hero or not? Arthur Miller" Death of a Salesman is considered one of the great tragedies, yet it does not apply to the given definition of tragedy. A tragedy is a drama that recounts an important and casually related series of events in the life of a person of significance, such events culminating in an unhappy catastrophe, the whole treated with great dignity and seriousness. The purpose of a tragedy is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear and thus to produce in the audience a catharsis (a proper purgation or cleansing of the emotions of gear and pity by vicariously participating in the actions of the hero and learning through his experiences and mistakes) of these emotions. In this play by Miller, Willy is the main character, but cannot be considered a tragic hero, according to the definition. Certainly, Willy is a victim of his own tragic flaw, but is not a person of significance, does not have outside forces bring him down, and he does not face his destiny with courage rather self pitying whimpers. ...read more.

Middle

Willy's obsession and lack of insight prevent all his relationships and cause him to betray his own set of values. His loyal and loving wife, Linda, supports him in both his fantasies and failures and her life seems to be entirely absorbed into his. Unable to achieve the desired success in his own career, he becomes preoccupied with ensuring the success of his two sons, in particular that of Biff who, he is convinced, is destined for greatness in his sporting, professional and social life. Sorrowfully, his over-zealous attempts serve only to reinforce Biff's sense of insufficiency and lack of identity. Willy realizes toward the end of the play that he does not need to `sell' himself to his family, who loves him despite his failings. Secondly, Willy Loman is not a tragic hero of Death of a Salesman because of the way he faced his destiny with self-pitying whimpers, rather than with courage and dignity. Although he wanted to succeed in life and be all he could be, he was preoccupied with his previous failures and his realization of his status in society made him think of the impossibility of the "American Dream." ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Willy is the main character of the play Death of a Salesman, and cannot be classified as a tragic hero according to the aforementioned definition. He is not a man of great nobility and honor. He is not highly ranked, but is 'somewhat' loved by his dysfunctional family. Yet, he makes his own mistakes that cause his downfall, but not because of an outside force. In addition, he does not face his destiny with courage and dignity rather self-pitying whimpers because he committed suicide, as he realized the truth about his life and all the miseries and failures that his life has resulted in. He made a few fatal decisions and was condemned to profound suffering because of them. This play was a great story of the aging, failing salesman who makes his living riding on a smile and a shoeshine. Arthur Miller "has given us a figure whose name has become a symbol for a kind of majestic grandiosity-and a play that compresses epic extremes of humor and anguish, promise and loss, between the four walls of an American living room." The similarities of the Loman's problems to the everyday problems that average people face make this a play full of realism. ...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)

    Therefore, it is not possible to dismiss him as a tragic hero on this basis. A further accepted feature of the tragic hero is the possession of hubris and hamartia; a tragic flaw and the mistakes caused by it. Hubris traditionally means a form of arrogance or pride and this

  2. Peer reviewed

    To what extent is Willy Loman a tragic hero?

    3 star(s)

    One critic thought, "Willy worked for others all his life... yet all this added up to was the opportunity to throw it away". 3I believe this is an aspect of a tragic hero because his overall intentions were good, he worked hard to provide for his family, yet the dream

  1. Quotes from All My Sons

    Except I wasn't... Fourteen months later I had of the best shops in the state again, a respected man again; bigger than ever." P116 Metaphor Failure of American dream should be in prison as has broken the law Hope "She's dreaming about him again"p99 Kate hopes that Larry will return

  2. Character Analysis - Willy Loman

    Willy has a false idea of what he has done as he says "I never in my life told him anything but decent things". Will believes this to be true, but as we have been shown this is very far from the truth and has played some part in the way he lives his life now.

  1. To what Extent does the Character of Willy Loman conform to the Conventions of ...

    A Tragic Hero should also have a fatal weakness, which leads to destruction and should find some degree of release and resignation when facing death. In the play we see Willy not being able to come to terms with reality.

  2. How does Willy Loman conform to the notion of a tragic hero?

    From this angle Willy Loman could be considered to be of 'noble standing'. Furthermore, if only nobility can grasp the emotional concept of tragedy, then why do the average people enjoy the idea of a tragedy in a play? The average person is capable of a fortune reversal, whatever standing they are.

  1. Free essay

    "Linda: I don't say he's a great man... He's not the finest character that ...

    I got my insurance to pay. If you could manage it - I need a hundred and ten dollars." The language used in this quotation is hesitant and embarrassed. He is losing his dignity because he has to admit defeat and ask for money making him seem pathetic and worthless.

  2. Death of a Salesman is an indictment not of Willy Loman but of the ...

    Willy Loman is a deluded salesman whose vivid imagination is far greater than his sales ability. Linda, Willy's wife, honourably stands by her husband even in the absence of essential realism. To some extent, she acknowledges Willy's aspirations but, naively, she also accepts them.

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