Willy Loman The Tragic Hero

Essay by ilnet2000High School, 11th gradeA, June 2005

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

The definition of a tragic hero varies from person to person. In the Elizabethan times, people relied on the Aristotle definition of a tragic hero, who must be from the nobility class. Yet, modern literature tend to shift away from that notion, and according to Arthur Miller in Tragedy and the Common Man, common man can be subject of tragedy as well as a nobleman. In the same article, Miller also sets other definitions in which he backs up the creation of his protagonist Willy Loman as a tragic hero in the play Death of a Salesman.

Willy Loman is a tragic hero in many ways according to Miller's definition of the term. One of the first adjustment Miller made to Aristotle's definition is his neglect of social classes, that the "common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were." (Tragedy and the Common Man) Loman is certainly a common man, a man from middle class America, who constantly makes economic welfare an issue for his family because he wants the best and nothing but success for his family, yet he is unable to achieve this because of his dignity, which he maintains throughout the play by refusal of jobs fellow friend offered to him and also his disillusion between reality and fantasy.

Dignity and its effects are also discussed in Miller's article. He defines a tragic hero as someone who is "ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing - his sense of personal dignity", also someone who tries to "gain his 'rightful' position in his society". (Tragedy and the Common Man) Loman is certainly willing to lay down his life to maintain his dignity. Although in destitute economic situations, Willy rejected a job that has...

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