Death of a Salesman Willie Loman

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Willy Loman is both a tragic figure and a pathetic figure. In a literary sense, he is a tragic figure. By definition a tragic figure is brought to ruin or suffers from extreme consequences of some tragic flaw or weakness of character. Willy suffers from his weaknesses of character and is brought to ruin by theses flaws. Willy made a poor choice-the adultery he fails to remember- that hurt his ability to function from that point on. His reality became intertwined with fantasy, and he became one big contradiction. He mixes his thoughts of the woman with thoughts of Linda, not realizing the difference. Willy’s fails to recognize the grief-stricken love available in his family, and the play offers this failure as the real tragedy. Even with this flaw of character, Willy makes the most fanatic sacrifice by committing suicide in his effort to leave an inheritance that will permit Biff to accomplish the American Dream. These are very contradictory aspects of his character, and seems that the first promotes the latter.

Willy Loman is a pathetic figure however. He does not achieve the self-realization or a sense of self like that of the typical tragic hero. Charley's speech about Willy being a victim of his own profession seems to be an attempt to support the heroic aspect of Willy's death and he states, “He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine...a salesman is got to dream, boy." This seems to attribute Willy’s work to forces he had to content with, which killed him. On the contrary, Willy failed to realize he had other choices, and could have chosen other paths, even in his state of mind. His death seems slightly heroic in the sense he gave his life for his son’s pursuit of happiness, but he never really attained self-actualization.

There are Willy Lomans in the world everywhere. We can all relate to him at some point because we all dream and we all have made mistakes that affect us, good and bad. We regret some past mistakes...
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