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Death Of A Salesman Essay

1067 words - 5 pages

Death of a Salesman
As Aristotle proposes in Poetics, Sophocles' Oedipus the King is “...an example of the highest achievement in tragedy.” Similarly, Death of a Salesman shares characteristics of classical tragedy in a contemporary setting. Just as hamartia and hubris bring devastation and ruin upon King Oedipus and his family, Death of a Salesman has a hero whose life, through a series of flawed decisions, spirals out of control and ends in misfortune. It is arguable that Willy Loman is not truly a heroic character, however, in his own mind he is a man who has tremendous popularity and success. While Willy has an unrealistic and quixotic nature, he is well intentioned and very human. ...view middle of the document...

..I’m very well liked in Hartford...the trouble is, Linda people don’t seem to take to me...they seem to laugh at me. I’m not noticed. I talk too much. I’m fat. I’m very — foolish to look at...they do laugh at me. I’m not dressing to advantage, maybe...” This is the darker, more malevolent‎ side of his fantastical musings and Willy consistently contradicts himself as his moods swing to opposite poles. For Willy, nothing is as important as attaining the material trappings and wealth of the American Dream, Regrettably, his personal version of the Dream is skewed and unrealistic. His lack of a true work ethic and the superficiality of his aspirations have dire consequences. He cannot even appreciate that he has a family who loves him. Willy’s uncompromising faith in his version of the Dream is the catalyst that initiates his downfall.
Willy’s entire family is willing co-conspirators in Willy’s fantasies. Willy experiences flashbacks about his sons Biff and Happy, in which he is a better father. Biff is always the dominant figure, as he is the favorite and oldest son. Willy’s daydreams about his sons are grandiose and largely fictitious. Perhaps Willy’s biggest sin is that he has passed on his talent for elaborate schemes and wildly extravagant, unrealistic dreams to his immature sons. Willy’s long-suffering wife Linda is a willing co-conspirator in her husband’s illusions about himself and his sons. She loves Willy and so looks the other way regarding his career, their finances, his mental and physical health and, perhaps, even his affairs. She is an archetypal enabler and Willy frequently treats her badly. When she tries to join the conversation between he and his sons, he explodes at at her and she meekly accepts his abuse.
As Willy unravels, he imagines his dead brother Ben, who has passed away. Ben rarely saw Willy while he was alive, but Willy idolizes Ben’s success and wealth. As Ben states, “...when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. (...laughs) and by God I was rich”. As Willy listens to his brother’s larger-than life adventures in Alaska...

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