Willy Loman as a Tragic Hero in Death of a Salesman Essay examples

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Willy Loman as Tragic Hero in Death of a Salesman


Willy Loman, the troubled father and husband in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, can be classified as a tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle in his work, Poetics.

In Aristotle's Poetics, a tragic hero was defined as one who falls from grace into a state of extreme despair. Willy, as we are introduced to him, becomes increasingly miserable as he progresses from a dedicated, loving father, though not without flaws, into a suicidal, delusional man. The definition of a tragic hero, as stated in "Poetics," also describes a person who is influential and is of significance to others. Though, in actuality, Willy Loman may not possess these characteristics, he perceives himself as
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Willy’s relationship with Biff and Happy also becomes strained throughout their lives. Since Biff was the older son and football star he made his father proud, and Happy was left without the praise that he needed and deserved, as he was always second best. Biff also was the one who caught his father having an affair with a woman in Boston, causing friction between himself and Willy. More importantly, Biff is extremely disturbed by his father's later behavior, including participating in imaginary conversations and reacting to his memories as though they were happening in the present. Willy's job also falls apart from the beginning of the play towards the end. Willy had been making enough money to support his family, but his unwillingness to learn new sales techniques or utilize modern technology resulted in lackluster sales and the loss of his job. Willy’s house had a mortgage until his death, implying that the family was not even secure in their own home. Finally, the family car, a symbol of pride within the Loman household, was destroyed when Willy committed suicide. This was the last example of Willy's destruction of all that was once important to him. Willy Loman, in this regard, follows Aristotle's suggestion that the tragic hero has "...a change of fortune... from prosperity to misfortune...." (Aristotle,1303)

Willy Loman sees himself…