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Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman Controversial Tragedy

1377 words - 6 pages

Tragedy was a very controversial issue in literature until recent years. Recent figures in literature have set a clear definition for tragedy. Author Miller is one of these figures. Plays and novels have distinguished the definition of tragedy. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary tragedy is a serious piece of literature typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites pity or terror. Miller's explains that a tragic hero does not always have to be a monarch or a man of a higher status. A tragic hero can be a common person. A tragedy does not always have to end pessimistically; it could have an optimistic ending. The play Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, is a tragedy because it's hero, Willy Loman, is a tragic figure that faces a superior source, being the American dream and the struggle for success. Loman also excites pity in the reader because of his defeat and his inability to become a success or teach his children how to make their lives successful.Miller defines a flaw as "an inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what one conceives to be a challenge to one's dignity..." Loman fulfills many of the requirements of being a tragic hero. Willy is not "flawless" in his actions, which by Miller's standards make him a tragic hero. It is not wrong for Willy to have flaws and it does not make him a weaker man but a tragic figure. Miller designed the play so that Willy could be a tragic hero and for this he needs to have a flaw. Willy's flaw is that he is unable to see things in a more realistic perspective. Charley says something in the play that sums up Willy's whole life. He asks him, "When the hell are you going to grow up?" Willy's spends his entire life in an illusion. He sees himself as a great man that is popular and successful. Willy exhibits many childlike qualities. Many of these qualities have an impact on his family. His two sons Biff and Happy pick up this behavior from their father. He is idealistic, stubborn, and he has a false sense of his importance in the world.The extreme to which he followed the dream brought him to disillusionment and a loose sense of reality. Willy created a reality for himself where he "knocked 'em cold in Providence," and "slaughtered 'em in Boston."(p.33) "Five hundred gross in Providence" becomes "roughly two hundred gross on the whole trip." The ultimate result of his disillusionment is his suicide. It is ironic that he dies for his ideals although they are misconstrued. Another of Willy's flaws is his disloyalty to Linda. Willy is unable to hold strong against temptations such as the women he slept with in Boston. Biff's faith in his father is lost after he encounters the situation. This may have been the cause for Biff's failure in life.Another of Miller's guidelines for a tragic hero is that a common man can be a tragic hero. Willy sums up to many of the characteristics shown in Arthur...

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