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Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman as a Tragic Hero

            Willy Loman, the protagonist of the tragic Arthur Miller play, Death of a Salesman, can be exemplified as a tragic hero in American literature. Arthur Miller describes a tragic hero to be "one who attempts to gain his 'rightful' position in society, and in doing so, struggles for his dignity." A tragic hero can also be characterized as someone whose punishment exceeds their crime, their increase in awareness on part of the hero, and their tragedy doesn't leave its audience in a state of depression. Some believe that Willy Loman is not what is called a tragic hero due to his many failures as a father and husband, but he actually is a good example of what would be entitled a tragic hero because of his his flaws, which lead to his downfall. These elements prove how although possessing many common qualities that are of an average man, he still can be characterized as a true tragic hero.
             Willy Loman's sequence of life events stems from his fatal character flaws. The first flaw that causes him a lot of problems is his dishonesty and deception. Willy is the standard businessman chasing after the classic "American Dream." This ideal gives Willy unrealistic expectations about how life works. Willy proves his dishonesty when Biff catches him in Boston with the woman, and he immediately lies about who she is and says she's just there for work. Willy is dishonest with himself and his family about his work life by exaggerating his sales and salary. In some ways, these attributes could be expected from a salesman, because their whole job is centered around their ability to sell themselves to the customer, to therefore sell the product. Willy's flaw, however, comes in his inability to separate his "salesman" persona from his actual nature, because as his business as a salesman declines, the audience can see him trying to sell himself to his family and friends more and more.

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