Willy Loman Is No Superman
When most people think of a hero they think of superheroes, a famous celebrity, a great sports player, or their parents. Would someone call a forgetful and stubborn person a hero? Chances are they would not. In Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman is not a tragic hero because he does not fit Aristotle’s assertions that a tragic hero must arouse pity in the reader, feature a hero that is good, and feature a hero whose downfall is “brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error in judgment.”
Arthur Miller does not show a tragic hero because he does not arouse pity in the reader through Willy Loman’s issues. At first, a person may feel sorry for Willy because of his old age, but as the play progresses they realize that Willy does not deserve pity. One would feel sorry for a noble man, which Willy is not. Willy lives vicariously through his sons and when they do not live up to his expectations he becomes frustrated. The reader does not feel pity for Willy because he expresses his disappointment through anger instead of a less harsh approach. When Bernard informed Willy that Biff failed math Willy immediately replied with, “That son-of-a-bitch!” (Miller II.72). When Willy went to Howard’s office to ask for work closer to home he ended up losing his temper and began yelling at Howard who in turn fired him, saying that, “I [Howard] don’t want you to represent us. I’ve been meaning to tell you for a long time now” (Miller II.63). Since Willy has created a rude reputation of himself, the reader does not feel pity towards him losing his job. Not only does he not arouse pity, he also does not feature a hero that is good.
Arthur Miller does not feature a hero that is good through Willy Loman’s actions. Willy is rude and often puts people down, telling Biff, “you’re no good, you’re no good for anything” (Miller II.87). Willy ingrained the idea that someone must be well liked to live a successful life in his...
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