Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is a tragedy whose theme is the tarnishing of the American Dream. We, as Americans, have been conditioned to believe that beauty and charisma constitute necessary virtues rather than traits, and that appearances guarantee success. But most of us will go through our lives being "ordinary" -- and that's perfectly okay according to most views. I am going to discuss two different views of this play. One view is Miller's play as a tragedy with Willy Loman as the hero or the second view a realistic drama about an ordinary, flawed man.
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman breaks the mold of formulaic tragedies of previous eras. In this play he deals with middle-class people. At the opening of the play, the tragic hero, an old traveling salesman, Willy Loman, has already fallen and from the beginning was never an influential, admirable, or famous individual accept in his own mind. Even his loyal wife Linda admits that he has never been a "great man" or even the "finest" of characters. Nevertheless, she maintains that he is worthy of some attention as a human being who suffers. After all, she says, "a small man can be just as exhausted as a great man."].
To Arthur Miller "the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing- his sense of personal dignity." Death of a Salesman entirely reflects this general opinion of Miller. Just as Shakespeare's Hamlet and Macbeth attempt to gain a rightful position in their respective societies, Willy Loman seeks for his place in the world and is on an endless search for happiness and a sense of self worth. He is in constant concern about being well liked, and works himself to pieces over one of his son's football games. Although his values seem warped, his aspiration lost, and his problems trivial, the passion with which he attempts to achieve his flawed concept of success demonstrates a degree of greatness.