Willy Loman the Modern Tragic Hero Essay

This essay has a total of 293 words and 2 pages.

Willy Loman the Modern Tragic Hero



A tragic hero is known to be the protagonist who causes his own downfall, is seen as
greater than the average man, and is aware of his misfortune. In Arthur Miller’s Death of
a Salesman Willy Loman is the protagonist. Willy Loman illustrates significant
characteristics of a tragic hero.
Willy Loman achieves “recognition.” Willy, like Aristotle’s description of the
tragic hero, moves “from ignorance to knowledge”(Aristotle 190). Willy is ignorant of
his significance. He is unaware that his son Biff really loves him, but wife Linda helps
Willy realize the truth. When Willy knows that his life insurance money will help his
family live comfortably, he states that he is “worth more dead than alive”(Miller 98).
He then sacrifices himself for them.
Although he is a common man, Willy has the requisite stature to be heroic.
According to Arthur Miller, the tragic hero has “alternatives of a magnitude to have
materially changed the course of his life”(Miller 33). Willy strives to obtain the
American Dream by becoming successful in the business world. Willy envies people like
Ben and Howard who have achieved the American Dream. Willy also wants to have a
successful family life as a father and husband. Unfortunately, Willy was out of town on
business for a large part of his son’s lives. These business trips were also the cause of his
secret affair with a woman in Boston. The success that Willy tries so hard to achieve in
the business world is what causes his failure to obtain success in his personal life.
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