The Moder Tragedy Death of a Salesman
A Modern Tragedy
A form of drama in which a person of superior intelligence and character is overcome by
the very obstacles he/she is struggling to remove defines a tragedy as most people know
it. However, tragedy can reflect another aspect of life: the tragedies of the common
people. Heroic behavior in these instances may at times be impossible. We expect, from
reading the first tragedies, that only kings or nobility can be tragic heroes. Arthur
Miller himself said, “I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy
in its highest sense as kings were…[The same characteristics] which were enacted by
royal beings…apply to everyone in similar emotional situations.”
Death of a Salesman can be defined as a tragedy, with Willy Loman as the tragic hero.
Willy Loman has a tragic flaw characteristic of all tragic heroes, however, it is not
“necessarily a weakness.” Willy has a lot of dignity, and he is unwilling
“to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his
dignity, his image of his rightful status.” His tragic flaw leads to his demise.