Is "Death of a Salesman" a literary tradegy?

Essay by missalusUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2003

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Arthur Miller's, "Death of a Salesman" is a tragic story. It is a story about a man who has spent 40 years chasing an unattainable goal, while the most important issues fall to the wayside. This is a man with many flaws; the most harmful flaw of all being his persistence in chasing what he believes to be the "American Dream". In doing so, he becomes a lost, delusional soul, eventually giving in to suicide. After his death, his family is left alone, without even the benefit of an insurance settlement. This story is indeed a real tragedy.

Willy Loman is a common, average man, whose goals and expectations are shattered by the fictitious ideals of the society he has put his faith in. He spends the majority of his life in pursuit of the "American Dream" only to find bitter disappointment and rejection. Willy most likely has good intentions and wants nothing more than to be liked and admired.

Being well liked is the key to success in Willy's eyes. Early in the play during a conversation with his sons, Willy makes the comment, "Be liked and you will never want" (Miller, 1836). Willy put entirely too much value in his self image and self worth and this attitude ultimately cost him everything in the end.

Willy takes his job as a salesman very seriously. In the beginning, he is successful and well received by the clientele. However, over the years, things change and Willy realizes that he is losing his competitive edge. The connections he once had in the business are gone and Willy confidently believes that things would be different if they were still around. He even tells Linda, his wife, "If old man Wagner was alive I'd a been in charge of New York now!"...