Willy Loman, the main character in Death of a Salesman is a complex and fascinating tragic character. He is a man struggling to hold onto what dignity he has left in a changing society that no longer values the ideals he grew up to believe in. While society can be blamed for much of his misfortune, he must also be blamed himself to an equal extent for his bad judgement, disloyalty and his foolish pride.
Willy Loman is a firm believer in the "American Dream:" the notion that any man can rise from humble beginnings to greatness. His particular slant on this ideal is that a man succeeds by selling his charisma, that to be well liked is the most important asset a man can have. He made a living at this for 30 years, but as he enters the reclining years of his life, people have stopped smiling back and he can no longer sell the firm's goods to support himself. His ambition was one of greatness, to work hard and to be a member of the firm; and if he could not succeed in this respect, that he should at least be well-liked and be able to sell until the day of his death: When his friends would flock from all over the country to pay their respects.
Willy's main flaw is his foolish pride, this it what makes him a tragic hero. Yet there are many facets to his personality that contribute to the state he and the family are in during the play. His upbringing of the boys is one major issue, he raised them with the notion that if one is well-liked, he need not worry about qualifications, he believed that if his boys were popular they would come out on top. Sadly, he doesn't realise that the only way an ordinary person can get rich is through work (represented by Bernard) or through luck and good timing (Ben), and Willy missed the boat when it came to luck. The boys grew up to believe in all that their father had told them, and Happy went on to follow in his footsteps as a salesman.