A Tragic Hero of a Salesman - Tragic Heroism in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

Essay by eminem5000High School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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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...