Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is often considered a classic American tragedy. The playwright himself has said that the focus of the work is not on the death of Willy Loman, but on the effect his death has on his family. In this way, Death of a Salesman can be seen as exploring the common man’s struggle against the forces of society and fate.
Miller himself was born into a working-class family, and his plays often explore the hopes and struggles of average people caught up in larger events. Many critics see Death of a Salesman as a comment on the American Dream, and on the ways in which society can crush individual dreams. The play has also been read as a metaphor for the Cold War, with Willy Loman’s individual failure reflecting the larger failure of America to live up to its ideals.
Death of a Salesman remains one of Arthur Miller’s most popular and influential works. It has been adapted for film and television several times, and is still regularly performed on stage. The play continues to resonate with audiences today, as it speaks to universal themes of family, success, and the human condition.
“If the exaltation of tragic action was truly a quality of high-bred characters alone, it is difficult to imagine that the general public would prefer tragedy to all other types.” (Dwyer). It strains credibility that only high-ranking individuals enjoy tragedy. According to his essay “Tragedy and the Common Man,” Arthur Miller develops his own theory of a tragedy and the tragic hero. This pattern supports the notion that both low-class and high-ranking characters can be victims of drama.
Death of a Salesman follows this pattern and is therefore, a tragedy. The high-bred character that Miller speaks of is usually someone who comes from a privileged background. They have all the advantages in life and typically have an easy time making things happen for themselves.
This is not the case for common men. Death of a Salesman’s Willy Loman is a prime example of someone who does not have the benefits that come with privilege. He constantly struggles to make ends meet and support his family. Even though he works hard, it’s never enough. His entire life is one big struggle.
In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman makes some poor choices that eventually lead to his downfall. He has an affair, he steals from his employer, and he lies to his family. These choices are all indicative of a man who is desperate and does not have much to lose. In the end, Willy takes his own life. This is the final act of a tragic hero.
While Death of a Salesman may not be considered a traditional tragedy, it does follow Arthur Miller’s pattern for a tragedy of the common man. Willy Loman is someone who is easy to relate to. He’s not perfect, he makes mistakes, and he pays the ultimate price for those mistakes. His story is one that will resonate with many readers.
Miller redefines tragedy as something that happens more frequently than what is depicted in Shakespeare and Euripides’ plays, thus defining Death of a Salesman as a tragedy. Willy Loman is a tragic hero. His greatest fear is that people will see him as a decent, likable guy who doesn’t make errors. He wishes to believe that he is well-liked and decent, without making any mistakes. The reality is that he makes mistakes and is human like everyone else.
Loman’s fatal flaw is his blindness to the truth. He can only see what he wants to and this flaw leads to his downfall. Miller demonstrates that everyone can be a tragic hero due to their own unique set of circumstances.
Death of a Salesman is a play that is relevant to any time period because it deals with universal truths about human nature. Death of a Salesman addresses the common man and his struggles. It is a tragedy in the classical sense in that Loman has a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall, but it is also relevant to the modern day because it speaks to the common man.
The failure to acknowledge my existence is what makes Willy a tragic hero. The tragedy in this story resides in the fact that Willy does not realize his mistake and therefore continues to repeat it. It’s like he doesn’t think anything he’s doing is wrong. This man doesn’t deserve our time or energy; I’m glad no one listens to him! His “underlying fear of being dispossessed” is the actual tragedy.
The death of a salesman is not just about the death of one man, but about the American dream and what it has become. The “disaster inherent in being torn away from our chosen image of what and who we are in the world” is something that we can all relate to, whether or not we are salesmen. In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller gives us a glimpse of the darker side of the American dream, and in doing so reveals Willy Loman to be the tragic figure he is.
However, he is a guy who strives to do things correctly. The fact is that Willy has numerous incidents that haunt him. Throughout the play, Willy transitions in and out of a dream. He is constantly haunted by memories of his late brother Ben, who struck it rich in the jungle. He also has flashbacks of events that afflict him in other areas. For example, when Biff catches Willy cheating on Linda with another woman (Margot Kidder). This haunts Willy because he believes it is one of the reasons why Biff does not love him.
Willy is always trying to make up for his past sins. The play is Willy’s journey to find a way to come to terms with these memories and ghosts. He wants to find a way to peace so that he can die in peace. Death of a Salesman is both a personal tragedy and a tragedy of the common man.
Miller expertly captures the struggles of the average person trying to make it in America. Willy’s story is one that is still relevant today. Many people are still struggling to find their place in the world and make sense of their lives. Death of a Salesman is a timeless masterpiece because it speaks to this struggle.