The Daily Objectivist said that a hero is any person who applies rational virtue to achieve rational value at least 67 percent of the time, even when it is difficult or scary to do so, and in a way that significantly betters himself and others in the process ("What is a Hero"). Additionally, hero is defined as someone or something that is qualified to earn respect from others as well as having to sacrifice its own will towards their love. From Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is qualified as a tragic hero in the traditional sense because of his total will towards his job as a salesman and the sacrifice of his life tells how heroic he is.
The security of one's personal dignity is one of the key instances that exemplify a hero. Willy Loman lived his entire life as a salesman and nothing else. His job as a salesman was what he primarily loved and it was the only thing that he actually put his pride in.
For instance, he misses many opportunities of being successful. He could have gone to Africa and become a rich man, but he stayed in New York simply because he is a salesman (Dwyer). Furthermore, he refuses to accept the job that Charley have offered him and just borrows some money to pay off his insurance bill. Willy Loman speaks not of "success," so much as of being "well liked" ("D. of a S. Tragedy of a Common Man"). This means that throughout all of the hardships that he went through, he wanted to look highly regarded as a salesman. Biff once says that "a carpenter is allowed to whistle" (I. 76). He is saying that people should do something that interests them the most. As for
Willy, salesman was what he was attracted to most and the way he put his pride in it demonstrated that he was a true hero.
Sometimes sacrifice is made in order to be called a hero. At the end of the book, Willy commits suicide by running into a car. He commits suicide in the conviction that a legacy of $20,000 is all that is needed to save his beloved but also damaged offspringall that is standing between them and success ("D. of a S. Tragedy of Common Man"). Since he have lost his job and finally understood about his failure over the past years, he thought that he could at least support the family by attaining the insurance money by killing himself. His death was mostly motivated by his beloved son Biff, when he was told that Biff had loved him so much. A tragic hero is someone with the dedication to die for a belief. Willy did have some alternatives; however, he chose to live in a certain way that brings about his downfall.
Willy Loman certainly is capable of being called the tragic hero, because of his self pride and the love for his family. Putting down all of the wonderful opportunities in order to do what he always wanted, shows his great courage toward his pride. Moreover, putting an end to his life to support the love ones could be the true definition of a tragic hero. He has supported his family throughout his life, until the very last moment. Therefore, Willy Loman is a hero and should be well respected.
"Death of a Salesman: Tragedy of a common man." Midsummer Magazine 1991 13, December 2004
Dwyer, David W. "Tragedy and the Common Man." 1998 14, December 2004
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York, Penguin Book USA Inc. 1949
"What is a Hero?" The Daily Objectivist 2000 15, December 2004