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To what extent do you consider Willy Loman a tragic hero?

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1. To what extent do you consider Willy Loman a tragic hero? Should 'Willy Loman' of Arthur Millers classic, Death of a Salesman be regarded as a tragic hero, or merely a working-class, socially inadequate failure? Described by Miller as a "self-destructive, insecure anti-hero", it seems almost impossible for Loman to be what is known as a tragic hero in the 'classical' sense, but with the inclusion of other factors he maybe a tragic hero, at least in the modern context, or partially suit one nonetheless. To make the decision as to Whether Loman is a tragic hero or not, one must define the term 'tragic hero' and reveal its development in theatre over the course of time. The tragic hero first defined by Aristotle in the Poetics, "...sees the rise of a noble character (employing artistically enhanced language); presented in dramatic form. Due to a character flaw and a seemingly unchangeable series of events, their demise is met, resulting in a pitiable and fearful scenario, leading to catharsis." According to Aristotle, fate and the wish of the Gods played a large component in the falling of the tragic hero and nothing at all could be done to stop this. ...read more.


The next section of the tragic hero definition we must look into is Loman's nobility. Is there any nobleness in his final actions and action throughout, and does his death fill us, the audience with a sense of catharsis? Linda, being Willy Loman's 'rock' is the source of a majority of his most respectable actions, having learnt to live with "his massive dreams and little cruelties..." It is clear in Act II he cares for Linda deeply as he says to Biff, "...I'm looking for a little good news to tell your mother, because...the woman has suffered." Willy Loman is disorientated, unsuccessful but well-intentioned. I believe it is safe to say aside from a few faults due to be discussed Loman is noble in him own right, and in the correct frame of mind his actions and word display this. We could compare him with Proctor, in The Crucible, who chooses to die rather than live and besmirch his "name," and in The Price, one son gives up opportunities which might have led to success equal to that of his brother, and the son has done this on behalf of a father who was hardly worth the sacrifice. ...read more.


On the face of it this ought to be obvious in the light of modern psychiatry, which bases its analysis upon classic formulations, such as the Oedipus and Orestes complexes, for instance, which were enacted by royal beings, but which apply to everyone in similar emotional situations." This extract has been taken from his book, Tragedy and the Common Man. From this explanation of tragedy we must ask, if this modern story can take its place alongside other great classic tragedies? I believe it must take its place along side other great classic tragedies whilst also challenging old meanings and thus improving them to suit what going on at present. A new definition is not really needed just an improved one as, the developments in society such as science do tend to steer our view away from factors such as fate. Therefore I propose tragedy as: "The rise of a noble character (be them of royal blood or just the common man); presented in dramatic form. Due to a character flaw or flaws and the involvement of outside help, their demise is met, resulting in a pitiable and fearful scenario, leading to catharsis." And that Willy Loman in his situation can be classified according this new meaning as a Modern day tragic hero. Trevor Palmer Centre No.:12101 Exam No.:4193 Death of a Salesman Coursework 1 ...read more.

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