"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller is a tragedy, which comments on American life and values. It has become one of the most performed plays in theatrical history. "Death of a Salesman" has earned Miller a number of awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The success of this tragedy can be viewed as a result of Miller's ability to portray the universal hoes, fears, and struggles of the average American. (Drama for students).
"Death of a Salesman could also have been named "Death of the American dream because it shows how Willy's dream came shattering in on him and eventually died. Whether reading or watching "Death of a Salesman", the audience can relate to the tragic hero, Willy Loman. Miller states that a tragic hero is "a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing- his personal dignity"(Tragedy 1). This quotation accurately depicts the very life of Willy Loman. Through his tragic hero and main character, Willy Loman, Miller successfully exposes the economical, personal, and social shortcomings of American life.
The first American shortcoming successfully exposed by Miller was the personal shortcoming. Willy's battle with himself plays a large part in his eventual downfall. Throughout Willy's life, he masks what he really is with what he wants to be. Willy feels the need to be something he can never be and from this struggle, he becomes uncontrollable and insane. Due to the fact that Willy lost touch with who he really was, he lost his grasp of things in general. At the age of 63, Willy believed he was still popular, respected, and good-looking. However, he was none of these things, he was looking through a dream. (homework) All Willy wanted in life was to provide for his family and be well liked and for this, he was ready to throw his life away. Willy struggles with his ideal self his entire life, until he can no longer deny the fact that he will never become this ideal self"(Drama for students).