Death of a Salesman
Most of people don’t think that tragedy can happen to them, most people are wrong; why should tragedy be reserved for royalty. Willy Loman can be considered a tragic hero in the sense that he does have a tragic flaw, he is losing the confidence of people in his life, and he is willing to lay down his life to secure one thing in a sense of personal dignity. Miller was able to fit the common man into a role normally reserved for only the highest royalty. This has considerably changed the face of tragedy.
Miller has broken the boundaries of why no one has written a tragedy about the common man, he has also proven that a tragedy is based around more than the blood line of the protagonist, and finally he has shown that a modern tragic hero is easily relatable to a modern audience. Willy Loman has the classic definition of a tragic flaw. Throughout the book he has shown what Arthur Miller calls the tragic flaw, “his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity. ” This is prominent when he is in an argument with someone such as when he is fighting to get a job on the floor in his firm.
There is no doubt that Willy’s “challenge accepted” ideology will get him in trouble. The fact that Willy has a tragic flaw proves the Miller has succeeded in breaking the previous boundaries on what a tragedy is, namely that it’s about a common man rather than royalty. This shows that even though “modern man has had the blood drawn out of his organs of belief by the skepticism of science” as Miller had put it, does not mean that the common man cannot experience tragedy in a similar matter to Macbeth, or Caesar. Miller said “For one reason or another, we are often held to be below tragedy-or tragedy above us.
The inevitable conclusion is, of course, that the tragic mode is archaic, fit only for the very highly placed, the kings or the kingly, and where this admission is not made in so many words it is most often implied. ” Miller is just solidifying the fact that tragedy should not be reserved for royalty. Willy’s not only unwilling to back down, he is also losing the confidence of people in his life. Right from the start of the book Willy’s kids, Biff and Happy, have been questioning him due to the fact that he is talking to himself. As the book goes on, he loses the confidence of his boss, and other important people in his life.
Willy is proof that tragedy does not have any preference on blood line. Miller said “I believe that that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were. ” This shows that Miller believes strongly that anyone can experience tragedy. “On the face of it this ought to be obvious in the light of modern psychiatry, which bases its analysis upon classic formations, such as the Oedipus and Orestes complexes, for instance, which were enacted by royal beings, but which apply to everyone in similar emotional situation. ”
Miller continues. What Miller is saying is that modern psychiatry should show obvious proof that tragedy can happen to anyone. The fact that Willy is willing to lay down his life to secure one thing, in this case the American Dream, in a sense of personal dignity is the final nail in the coffin for our tragic hero. Through Willy’s flash backs we realize that he has been chasing the American Dream right from the beginning, even though it’s put him in a bad place financially. He continues to want to have that stereotypical family, even though there is no way for him to achieve it.
He has too many bills to pay with no real source of income, he is losing his mind, and he is cheating on his wife. After all the facts it is clear that Willy is a very relatable character to a modern audience. The reason people find it hard to relate is, according to Miller, a character that accepts whatever happens to him and/or her without active retaliation is known as “flawless”; most people fit under that category. But also according to Miller, “there are those among us today, and there always has been, those who act against the scheme of things that degrades them” and those are the people who really connect to this play.
In the end, it is undeniable that Willy is a tragic hero and that Arthur Miller has changed the face the face of tragedy. Willy’s tragic flaw, the loss of confidence from the people that matter most, and his refusal to give up on his dream has led to the downfall; just like every other tragic hero before him. Arthur Miller has broken down the boundaries of the modern tragedy, he has proven that blood line does not matter, and has made it relatable to a modern audience.