Death of a Salesman: Tragedy of the Common Man

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Death of a Salesman: Tragedy of the Common Man
Arthur Miller's Willy Loman is a middle-aged businessman from New York, who has lost his touch in the working world and is struggling to make ends meet. In a changing business environment, Willy is unable to adapt to his surroundings in order to succeed. Though his abilities as a salesman have degraded over time, Willy is too proud to give up. He refuses a job that is offered to him, and instead he secretly gets money from his friends to make ends meet. Willy eventually makes the ultimate sacrifice of his life to avoid admitting his inability to provide for his family. In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller parodies the classic tragic hero with his character Willy Loman. Willy is "a little man succumbing to his environment, rather than a great man destroyed through his greatness" (Muller 29). This story, centered on Miller's tragic hero, is a parody of classic tragedies. Using all of the components of Willy Loman's life and environment, such as his family and friends, and even the society he belongs to, Arthur Miller is able to create a parallel to of the major aspects of a classic tragedy, like that of Oedipus. "In Death of a Salesman society assumes the role of the gods to whom Willy gives allegiance" (Otten 138). Like the gods of classic tragedy, society is what causes Willy to act in opposition to an opposing imperative, the wishes and well being of he and his friends and family. Ironically, though, Willy Loman's gods are completely indifferent to his actions and his financial and personal struggles. The society that Willy belongs to is the business world. His boss, Howard, is representative of the business world's rejection of Willy. Unwilling to accommodate Willy's inability to travel anymore, Howard says, "No, but it's a business, kid, and everybody's gotta pull his own weight" (Miller 80). Willy's wife, Linda acts similarly to the Greek Chorus, whose plea for relief accidentally leads to the tragic end of...
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