"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller.

Essay by josdeaHigh School, 12th grade November 2003

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Tragedy and Pathos

A curious reader probes deeper into the story Death of a Salesman and concludes that the story is a tragedy. The reader may even proclaim that Willy Loman is a pathetic character because he is reaching for unattainable goals and is struggling with his family life. However, this inquisitive reader may be using these terms too lightly according to Arthur Millar's essay "On the Nature of Tragedy."

Arthur Miller brings new identification to the words: tragedy and pathos. To many people the distinction between these words is faded, but there is a difference and this discrepancy is imperative when looking at literature, and when looking at specific characters. A pathetic incident is an unavoidable occurrence which produces sad or sympathetic emotions from the reader. A tragic experience is something that was avoidable and in which enlightenment and learning are potentially attainable. Arthur Miller highly appreciates the positive values of tragedy because of its benefits to the reader, as well as the learning that can be achieved.

Learning from one's mistakes is a common saying and a well known guideline to follow. A close mirror to that idea is the concept of learning from other people mistakes and situations. This tragic style of literature creates an outlet for the reader to integrate fictional truth with an application to everyday living.

The film The Count of Monte Cristo demonstrates Millers distinction of tragedy and pathos in the character of Edmond Dantes. Dantes is wrongfully accused of treason and is sent to prison. This exhibits the pathetic nature of the situation because he was imprisoned without merit and can not avoid the circumstances. After Dante's escape from prison and the revenge of his betrayers, Edmond discovers that the consequences of his revenge are not as fulfilling as he'd hoped. This...