Books and Movies Reviews

Willy Loman: Twentieth-Century Tragic Hero

Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, is the quintessential twentieth-century tragic hero because he has a terrible, fatal flaw – he is blind to reality.He is also a tragic hero because, even though he is responsible for his own life, we feel sorry for him.Willy believes the lies he tells himself and he loves to find excuses for everything that is wrong with his life.One last aspect that makes Willy a tragic hero is the fact that he experiences a catharsis that cleanses all the dirt from his life.Sadly, Willy is a modern-day loser – our generation's tragic hero.
We can look at Willy as a modern tragic hero because he is blind to reality.He lives in a dream and cannot face the fact that he is a failure.Because he does not face this fact about himself, he cannot do anything to correct it so he continues to live in a bad situation.He perpetuates the myth by living the lie.Robert Martin maintains, "Although Willy talks grandly of heroic deeds, of great feats of salesmanship, it is evident to everyone (including Willy himself), that his life-long dream of success is flawed" (Martin).It is easier for Willy to make excuses for his pathetic life than do something proactive.He is a contemporary hero because he is blind.
Willy is a tragic hero because we feel sympathy for him. While we realize that Willy is responsible for his actions, we still feel for him because his story is, in a word, sad.Willy is always looking for excuses.For instance, he tells his wife, "The trouble was that three of the stores were half-closed for inventory in Boston.Otherwise, I woulda broke records" (1046).He thinks people do not like him and they look over him at work.Willy is a loser and this makes us feel sorry for him.
Willy can be considered a tragic hero because he experiences a catharsis that releases him from everything negative in his li(f)e.While his suici


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