Okonkwo and Willy Loman as Tragic Heroes.
According to Arthur Miller, the definition of a tragic hero is one who refuses to remain passive when he feels his personal dignity is challenged, is willing to lay down his life to secure his dignity, and attempts to gain his "rightful" place in society. Willy Loman and Okonkwo, the chief protagonists of the drama Death of a Salesman, and the novel Things Falls Apart, respectively, are both classical examples of a tragic hero as they struggle to achieve success in societies that seems completely turned against them. Neither man remains passive when they feel they are considered failing or weak, as they strive to make their way in the world. Willy and Okonkwo, in addition, do go as far as taking their own lives to secure the small amount of dignity they feel they have left, to show their communities that they did indeed make a difference. Searching for what they feel is their right place in society, the attempts are futile as both men get lost and caught up with their dreams and reality strikes back with a heavy blow. Willy Loman and Okonkwo are personifications of tragic heroes as neither man can keep up with the rapid pace of changing times and their downfall in a world full of unrealistic dreams and false hopes.
Willy Loman and Okonkwo take action, rather than remain apathetic, when their dignity is challenged as they try to sustain control of their lives being pulled out from beneath them. Willy Loman is constantly trying to figure out where his life went wrong, but denies that he has actually failed. He covers up his failure to his family and friends through lies and pretending to be a man he only dreams he was. He takes no blame for his family's struggles and hardships; he condemns his sons for being lazy and not making anything of themselves and always insist he will work harder and make up for any problems. He pushes himself hard with his job, even though he is sixty-three, because he has not lived his dream of success and prosperity.