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To what extent do you consider Death of a Salesman to be the tragedy of an ordinary man

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Introduction

To what extent do you consider Death of a Salesman to be the tragedy of an ordinary man? What strikes me when looking at various bad times in Willy's life is that he nearly always strives to do the best for his family and his kids especially. Though he does lie to Linda, Biff and Happy throughout the play, I can still see an element of sadness or tragedy in the way that he wants to be the best never reaches his goal. Willy was a great father and his children and wife absolutely adored him before he became a follower in his hybrid version of the American dream. In this way, I think that Death of a Salesman can be considered a tragedy of the ordinary man. Willy's expectations of the dream are unrealistic when you consider his attributes as a person- being good with his hands and liking the outdoors. In the course of the play he comes to realize that his true wealth lies in being appreciated and respected by his family, and in one final attempt to secure his personal dignity and provide a future for his sons through his life insurance, he commits suicide. Normally, Willy is described as either a tragic hero or a pathetic loser, however, in the statement above we see a question that is neither of these two descriptions- it is in the middle. ...read more.

Middle

There are many scenes that back up the idea of him being a tragic figure. For example, on page 60 when Howard talks to Willy about his new camera. HOWARD: "...I'm gonna take my camera and my bandsaw, and all my hobbies, and out they go. This is the most fascinating relaxation I've ever found." WILLY: "I think I'll get one myself." This line of Willy's here represents everything that is going wrong in his life at the present time. He feels as if he has to lie to Howard in order to be on the same level. However, what really happens is that Willy lowers himself to an even sadder extreme. We all know that when Willy says that he thinks he'll get one of these 'fascinating' cameras as well, that he is lying through his teeth because he can hardly afford to provide for his family, let alone material possessions. Having said that, it is these material possessions that Willy lusts after with the mindset that when he gets more of them, he will be happy. What Willy doesn't seem to know is the fact that he has a loving family which is drifting away from him every day whilst he longs to be a success like Howard, Charley, Stanley or Ben. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is supposedly the answer to all of his troubles but we quickly find out that the dream in killing him inside and he would be much better suited to a life such as the one that Biff lives out in the play. The ironic thing is that Willy isn't working in an area that is normal or ordinary to him. He pushes himself into unfamiliar surroundings in pursuit of his goal and ends up not feeling fulfilled. In my opinion, Death of a Salesman can be considered the tragedy of an ordinary man due the sole fact that Willy is actually quite a normal person and a loving husband. His attempts to secure a reasonable income for his family mean that he forgets to love them and in turn goes mad due to the fact that he wants to fulfill his goal. In my eyes, the death of Willy Loman is a huge tragedy because he never achieved his quixotic goal of true success. Underneath all of Willy's ambition for his Biff, Happy and himself, he is actually an ordinary man who loves his family very much. He craves success but also needs to be loved and to love. Unfortunately, in Willy's life, he cannot sustain both and ends up a distraught wreck of a man whose tragic death is the only way he can escape his life of pressure and impossible ambitions. ...read more.

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