Death of a Salesman vs. Tragedy and the Common Man

Topics: Tragic hero, Tragedy, Death of a Salesman Pages: 3 (1220 words) Published: April 25, 2012
It makes little sense that tragedy should only pertain to those in high ranks. As explained in his essay "Tragedy and the Common Man," Arthur Miller establishes the pattern for his own notion of a tragedy and the consequent ramifications for the tragic hero. This pattern supports the central idea that a tragedy can occur for characters who are common men as well as those in high places. Throughout his paper, Miller demonstrates that it should be possible for every reader to be able to identify with the tragic hero. Miller redefines tragedy as more common occurrence than what might happen in tragedies such as portrayed by Shakespeare and other classical writers, thus defining Death of a Salesman as a tragedy. Willy Loman is a tragic hero. He fears that while he hopes to be viewed as a good, decent human being, others might not agree. He wants to believe that he's a well-liked, decent person who doesn't make mistakes. The truth is that he makes mistakes (many that haunt him), and that he is human. Willy does not consider his flaws normal and severely regrets his shortcomings. As he sees it, Willy raises his children poorly and doesn’t do well in business, though he wishes he did. Willy also cheats on Linda, deeming her to be a commodity of which he takes advantage. "The quality in such plays that does shake us... derives from the underlying fear of being displaced, the disaster inherent in being torn away from our chosen image of what and who we are in the world" (Miller, "Tragedy and the Common Man"). Willy's "underlying fear of being displaced" is the real, personal tragedy. He yearns to do things right; but the fact is, he has many past incidences that haunt him. Throughout the play, Willy drifts in and out of a dream. He is continually haunted by memories of his dead brother Ben who, prior to his death, struck it rich in the jungle. He also has flashbacks of occasions that haunt him relating to other aspects of his life. For example, the sequence when Biff...
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