Is "Death of a Salesman" an American Tragedy?

Essay by SpidyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 2005

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"Death of a Salesman" has been called the first American Tragedy. The basis for this is the fact that Willy, the main character, has the needed tragic flaw and tragic end, and for those who believe this is a tragedy, also is the tragic hero. I disagree with this idea, because to be a tragic hero, you need to have power and status to lose. Willy has neither power nor status to lose, except that which he thinks he has, which is really none.

To have a true tragedy, there must be three main elements in the story, a tragic hero, tragic flaw, and tragic end. If you consider Death of a Salesman to be a tragedy, than you must take that Willy is the tragic hero. With that basis, his flaw could be many things. He is partially crazy, seeing his deceased older brother Ben whenever he needed support, or it could be the values he basis everything on.

His values are that you must be well liked by everyone you meet, or you will never succeed, and you will never get ahead in life.

With his brother getting lucky in Africa by finding diamonds, and thus getting filthy rich in a matter of 3 years, Willy's perception of success must have been warped. Also, his father was a traveling salesman till Willy was 3, and at which time he passed away. Before he died, he was a great salesman, inventing things, carving flutes, and doing whatever he could to sell things. He was very gifted as a salesman, and this surely made Willy think he could be good also. Willy also knew of a man, Dave Singleman, who was one of the greatest salesmen ever. Where ever he went, people knew him,