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Death of a Salesman

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Is it Impossible for a Director of The Flashback Scene in The Restaurant, pages 73-93 of 'Death of a Salesman' to Show Willy as a Tragic Hero? Discuss. In Your Answer You Must Discuss how the Scene Could be Played and Base Your Answer on Textual Analysis of Character, Plot and Stage Direction Commenting on The Context of The Play. The play 'Death of a Salesman' was written in 1949 by Arthur Miller and is one of his most successful plays. At Millers' time, America was deemed to be a 'land of opportunity' and all Americans had the right to be successful. However his father's prosperous living as a clothing manufacturer had been ruined by the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The play examines the cost of blind faith in the American Dream, closely related with the theme of manifest destiny. There was much belief in the American Dream, and this would be achieved through hard work, courage and determination by every American. 'Death of a Salesman' is based around the main protagonist, Willy Loman an elderly man. He is an insecure, self deluding travelling salesman. Mr Loman is "past sixty years of age" and "dressed quietly", nonetheless he is a man with "massive dreams", a "mercurial nature" and "turbulent longings within him". He never comes to terms with reality for the reason that he is lost in an illusion and false hopes, for example Willy cannot see who he and his sons, Biff and Happy, are and he just believes that they are great men who have what it takes to beat the business world and be successful. ...read more.


The Woman stockings shows us the foreshadowing of the flashback, let alone of his peculiar obsession with Linda's stockings, which alone symbolise Willy's sexual disloyalty and deceitfulness. From what it is evident by Willy's actions in the Hotel room and his physical abusing on Biff, he is not acting of noble stature. Willy shows himself to be an indecent and cruel man by engaging in such activities especially by cheating on his ever-supportive and loving wife. Furthermore these actions are highly un-noble and it would not be situations a man of nobility would take part in. Willy can also be characterised again by not being noble and showing traits of a tragic hero elsewhere in the play, when he contemplates suicide. He tries this by a means of two ways. On page 41, Linda realises Willy's 'been trying to kill himself' as a woman saw Willy in his car and 'he wasn't driving fast at all and that he didn't skid.' He 'deliberately smashed into the railing of a little bridge, and it was only the shallowness of the water that saved him'. The other way in which Linda comes to know about Willy's suicidal attempt was when she 'was looking for a fuse. The light blew out,' and she 'went down the cellar. And behind the fuse box - it happened to fall out - was a length of rubber pipe - just short.' It is this rubber pipe that symbolises Willy's desperate suicidal attempts. ...read more.


This would not match that character of Will Loman. I would film Dustin so that he seems confused and generally so that his voice fluctuates. By using all the given arguments, I think Willy can be portrayed as a tragic hero. I believe, although he may not fit into an Aristotelian or Shakespearean view of a tragic hero, Willy still is a diligent man and it is his life and death which are tragic. He is haunted by the fact that, even though he wants to make an impression on his sons by giving them a strong foundation to build themselves up a business and he wants to be well remembered, in reality, he is unable to do any of these. Willy has arrived to face the absurdity of life and this is the reason why 'attention must be finally paid to such a person.' On page 39, Linda says 'a small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.' This supports the idea that a tragic hero does not no longer need to be a man of high moral stature or have the authority or largeness of a king but he can be an ordinary 'Lowman' to be significant to an audience. As 'Death of a Salesman' criticises the moral and social standards of contemporary America, it is not purely a play based on the particular plight of one man. It presents Willy as a victim of the deterioration of the 'American Dream'. Simran Singh Kooner 11HA English - 20th Century Drama Coursework ...read more.

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