"Linda: I don't say he's a great man... He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being... Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.

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"Linda: I don't say he's a great man... He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being... Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.

Using two or three critical views as a starting point, write an analytical response to the character of Willy Loman in the play.

        Towards the end of act one, Linda says that Willy is 'just' a common man, but that he still deserves sympathy when something terrible occurs in his life. Simultaneously Arthur Miller speaks through this character to persuade his audience that Willy's fate is vitally important, in spite of his humble status. The implication that Miller is making is that if a person doesn't receive the human dignity they deserve, they can be viewed as fundamentally tragic.

        Critics have asserted a range of interpretation's of Willy's character, from Gassner's positive assessment that Willy's "battle for self-respect... [,his] refusal to surrender... [and his] agony... gives him tragic status", to the more negative views of, say, Driver, who believes "It is in the lack of penetration that Miller fails us... we must settle for no more enlightenment... than pathetic Willy has."

Miller clearly wanted the audience to feel sympathetic towards Willy. To achieve this he advances three main criteria for tragedy: That Willy is a common man, that he loses dignity and that society is to blame for his downfall.

        Firstly, Willy Loman is a common man. We know this because he is an ordinary American, with an unremarkable job. Willy can also be associated with many men, living in America, in the 1940's, because of his financial constraints. For example when Linda is listing the amount of money that they owe for their possessions.

        "Well on the first there’s sixteen dollars on the refrigerator." there is symbolism used to show the pressure that Willy feels, this is the sample cases that he carries at the beginning of the play. Another way that Willy is common is the language that he uses for example at the end of act one he says,

        "Gee, look at the moon moving between the buildings!" When he says "gee" this is a slang word making him common.

        One argument against Miller making his main character common, is that common men may be considered dull calling into question whether they have sufficient impact on an audience to be tragic. As Muller says "the fastidious critics of the quarter lies generally dismissed it as a 'very dull business' without illumination or pity," I believe that Muller makes a valid point about how dull Willy is and how this affects the play. An example of how Willy’s dullness is, when Willy becomes upset about his wife buying a different type of cheese than normal.

        "Why do you get American when I like Swiss?" It seems that the type of cheese that Linda buys is an important thing in his life. If cheese seems to be a large factor in somebody’s life, then not much more can be happening, making him not very interesting.

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        Some may argue, however, that his very dullness strikes a chord with the audience because we too are frustrated by domestic trivialities, such as broken fridges, as well as more serious, but common issues, for example, the laziness of our children. An audience can also relate to Willy’s flaws and sympathise with him. One of his flaws is losing his job. In act two when Willy goes to see Howard and results in getting the sack, Howard says,

        "Kid I can't take blood from a stone, I-" I believe that the way Howard calls Willy 'Kid' is patronizing and there ...

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