Death of a Salesman

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According to Shakespeare, a tragic hero is not an ordinary man; he is a man at the zenith of society with greatness upon him. Concurring with this idea, critic Northrop Frye defines tragic heroes as someone that acquires inevitable power; however, catastrophes are more likely to occur to great trees, people with great power, than a clump of grass, common people. But when tragic heroes abuse their power, they become the cause of their own downfall, leading them to misfortune. In “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman is portrayed as the tragic hero as he irrationally chases after the American Dream. In his quest to achieve his dream, he manipulates his family’s feelings towards him. Since he admires good looks and personality over intelligence, strives to strike rich and is unable to separate reality from his illusions, his persistent aspiration to attain success causes suffering to not only himself but his own family.

Being well liked with good looks will never make a man want, is what Willy believes will lead the path to success. Instilling this concept into Biff, he gets brainwashed thinking that he’s better than his bookworm neighbor, Bernard. Biff tells Bernard that “He’s liked, but not well-liked” like him because Bernard is studious and doesn’t possess the handsome looks Biff walks around with confidently until the day he finds out about his dad’s affair when he needed support. His life crumbles apart as he witnesses his role model deceive him. Not knowing what came out of his dad’s mouth was true, Biff’s life becomes a puzzle after that event. He fails to complete summer school and declines his football scholarship offers. Willy’s infidelity destroys Biff’s hopes and dreams, leading him to partake in dirty deeds as an adult.

Success is determined by the performance of the person’s job; however, Willy was never a successful salesman. Living in his world, Willy loses himself in his illusions, inflating his sense of worth and accomplishments. Willy believed...
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