Oedipus versus Willy Loman

Essay by swimchika13University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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Oedipus versus Willy Loman

Throughout much of history, plays have been a regular source of entertainment. The door was opened for the tragic theme of writing through the play Oedipus: The King. Through the character, Oedipus, guidelines were created for a tragic hero. As time went on, the main components and characteristics of a tragic hero have remained, although the actual character has evolved to suit more modern and contemporary audiences. This concept is shown clearly as Willy Loman, of the play Death of a Salesman, is comparable to Oedipus, and exhibits main traits of a classical tragic hero, that were first outlined through Oedipus.

Both characters have distorted perceptions of reality. In Oedipus: The King, Oedipus is blind to the fact that his fate is inescapable. He refuses to see what actually happened and wishes not to accept what he had done. However, by the end of the play his eyes are symbolically opened to the truth, while ironically he is literally blinded.

Throughout the play of Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman has the wrong idea of the 'American Dream', as well as his own life. One may even come to the conclusion that he is mentally ill, as he can not keep reality separate from his imagination. Willy's multiple and failed attempts at suicide support the claim that he is psychologically unwell. Also, he says that he will have the 'death of a salesman', which he believes would be extravagant, with many people from many places present. By the end of the play, his son tells Willy that he knows about some of the suicide attempts. Willy comes to the realization that he can no longer try and hide the secret from anyone, of his suicide attempts. This leads to his final and...