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Arthur Miller's definition of a "TRAGIC HERO" in Death of a Salesman

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Arthur Miller's definition of a "TRAGIC HERO" in Death of a Salesman

Page 1 of 3
We as readers have too often become one-sided on a particular topic and failed to consider other possibilities. Even today, over fifty years after Arthur Miller's essay Tragedy and The Common Man; we still associate tragedy with the highborn and their plights. However, Arthur Miller stimulates our minds by explaining that a tragic hero can and should include the common man. He defines a tragic hero as one who attempts to "gain his 'rightful' position in his society" and in doing so, struggles for his dignity. Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman gives a perfect example of tragedy in the common man with the character Willy Loman, who, in his fear of being displaced, his struggle to fix his problems, and in his death as a plea for dignity, can be considered a modern tragic hero.

"...From this total onslaught by an individual against the seemingly stable cosmos...from this total examination of the unchangeable environment comes the terror and the fear that is classically associated with tragedy." Miller explains that a tragic hero is created when he begins to observe the harmonious universe and realizes that he cannot change this balance, because he starts to panic and worry about what his purpose is in life. Willy Loman, a formerly popular and successful salesman, realizes that he cannot change his son Biff early in the play, although he still attempts to make Biff realize that success is all about popularity. He says to his wife Linda, "I won't fight with him any more. If he wants to go back to Texas, let him go." (p. 18) It is in this realization that Willy fears being torn away from his chosen image of what he is in this world. We see that he is concerned because he has flashbacks of when his life was much better. On page 33, we get a glimpse of his theory in one of his memories: "Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. 'Willy Loman is here!' That's all they have to know and I go right through."...