Death of a Salesman is the tragic story of one man and his struggle to fulfill the American
dream and take his family along with him. Since the story is tragic, what would a tragedy be
without the title character, himself, dying? Well, probably just a sad story. So, it happens, but
we have to wonder, is Willy Loman a tragic hero? Arthur Miller says a tragic hero is "The
tragic feeling...invoked whenever we are in the presence of a character, any character, who
is ready to sacrifice his life, if need be, to secure one thing, his sense of personal dignity.""
It can be argued either way probably, but I believe that he is, and for three reasons. To begin,
Willy's death was self-induced, (though not regarded as noble, in his mind it was.) His reason
behind taking his own life was to allow his insurance money to go to the rest of his family to
carry on the dream, the rags to riches ideal of ultimate success.
Ultimately however, his plan fell
through, yet in his own eyes, his last minutes were heroic in the fact that he was putting his
family ahead of himself. Willy is a hero, if even just in his own eyes. He never let himself doubt
the fact that he was a hard worker whose work meant everything to himself. He went to work
each and every day and came home to his family, to some who he hoped would carry on the
family business. While this later turned out not to be the case, Willy never lost his pride and his
dignity. He believed in himself, his work and he believed that he always did things in the right.
He broke down in the novel, especially towards his son, but he...