",Death of a Salesman" by Willy Loman's .

Essay by lordrichardHigh School, 11th gradeA, July 2003

download word file, 7 pages 3.8

Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman presents a new take on the genre of tragedy. Miller writes of a tragic hero much like each and every person, an everyday man named Willy Loman. Willy Loman's very name explains his social position, that of a 'low man'. Arthur Miller felt that one of the key elements in the modern day tragedy was that "the compulsion within the protagonist gives rise to his insistence upon securing his personal dignity." Miller presents Willy Loman as a man who is obsessed with securing his personal dignity, a trait that acts as Willy's tragic flaw, and also a key component of the play.

The extreme use of contradiction attributed to Willy Loman's character is a key way in which he attempts to preserve his dignity. Willy seems trapped in his own world of lies and half-truths, while never quite realizing that he is lying to others, or to himself.

For instance, Willy makes the statement, "Biff is a lazy bum!" followed a few seconds later by, "There's one thing about Biff - He's not lazy." It is the mark of someone who is obsessed with dignity to never choose a firm course of reasoning, nor to take a firm position on any issue. Willy contradicts himself in order to have always have said the 'correct' thing, inadvertently, this trait actually makes him seem more foolish then if he had said only the wrong thing. The nature of contradicting oneself is that a person who does so can never actually be proved wrong, and can always assert an intellectual high ground, even when it is in no way warranted. A key example of this occurs when Willy tells Biff that 'Gee' is a boy's word, and later that night uses the word...