Willy as Pathetic Hero in Death of a Salesman Essay

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Wily as Pathetic Hero in Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller succeeds in demonstrating incredibly well in Death of a Salesman that not only is tragic heroism still possible in the modern world, but that it is also an affliction to which both king and commoner are equally susceptible. However, Wily Loman is not a tragic hero because he is pathetic, not heroic, in his personal "tragedy" that comes from his inability to admit his mistakes and learn from them. Instead, he fits Miller's description of pathos and the pathetic character, one who "by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity, or the very air he gives off, [is] incapable of grappling with a much superior force," (Miller 1728).

The tragic right to Arthur
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He is so terrified of not being what and who he thinks he is in society, that he cannot let go of his illusions and clings to them until his death. However, this is not because he is a common man. It is because he is a man who lacks the courage, conviction and strength to move past his illusions, grasp the truth and prevent himself from stifling his, or his sons, full flowering and whole development. This is because his fears and insecurities, not to mention failures, have arisen from his adopting unquestioningly a set of values that have been irreconcilable with the natural outpouring of his love and creativity. There is a "wrong" or an "evil" in Willy's environment that has prevented this because he has based his career choice, his method of parenting, and his lifestyle on a value system that is based on "appearances" not truth. When he discovers these values are illusions he stubbornly refuses to admit his mistakes, and, instead, becomes pathetic instead of tragically heroic because he clings all the more to his illusions and imposes them on anyone around him-or becomes irate with those who point out the errors of his actions and/or logic. The truth of modern society is that it represents one that thwarts man in his effort to achieve his "rightful dignity", but Willy never accepts the discovery of the moral law (which to Miller is the illumination of tragedy) which supports a man's right to achieve such dignity. Instead, he tries to live by the