Death of a Salesman vs. Tragedy and the Common Man

1220 WordsApr 25, 20125 Pages
It makes little sense that tragedy should only pertain to those in high ranks. As explained in his essay "Tragedy and the Common Man," Arthur Miller establishes the pattern for his own notion of a tragedy and the consequent ramifications for the tragic hero. This pattern supports the central idea that a tragedy can occur for characters who are common men as well as those in high places. Throughout his paper, Miller demonstrates that it should be possible for every reader to be able to identify with the tragic hero. Miller redefines tragedy as more common occurrence than what might happen in tragedies such as portrayed by Shakespeare and other classical writers, thus defining Death of a Salesman as a tragedy. Willy Loman is a tragic hero.…show more content…
Willy, like traditional tragic heroes, possesses a tragic flaw. "The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy" (Miller, "Tragedy and the Common Man"). Setting aside Willy's "tragic flaw," there is also a certain amount of hope and optimism that Willy might change. If there is a possibility of bringing an element of hope into this play, there is also a conceivable possibility of change. Change is the compelling force without which there would be no hope. And with change comes a reasonable possibility of victory. Throughout this entire play, Willy lives by the credo "be well liked." "Someday I'll have my own business, and I'll never have to leave home any more... bigger that Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not liked. He's liked, but he's not well liked" (Miller, Death of a Salesman 30) Willy finds this untrue as he increasingly makes less and less money on business trips. "Howard, and now I can't even pay my insurance! You can't eat the orange and throw away the peel! A man is not a piece of fruit" (Miller, Death of a Salesman 82) Willy, however, refuses to change his view of the world and therefore is destined to continue his struggle upstream. What makes this play tragic for me, though, is that Willy does not change. It is sadly his "tragic flaw" that brings about this failure. His unwillingness to submit passively to the established order and values is his demise. He has a set idea in his mind about how he wants to be and

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