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There are many scenes that back up the idea of him being a tragic figure. For example, on page 60 when Howard talks to Willy about his new camera. HOWARD: “… I’m gonna take my camera and my bandsaw, and all my hobbies, and out they go. This is the most fascinating relaxation I’ve ever found. ” WILLY: “I think I’ll get one myself. ” This line of Willy’s here represents everything that is going wrong in his life at the present time. He feels as if he has to lie to Howard in order to be on the same level. However, what really happens is that Willy lowers himself to an even sadder extreme.
We all know that when Willy says that he thinks he’ll get one of these ‘fascinating’ cameras as well, that he is lying through his teeth because he can hardly afford to provide for his family, let alone material possessions. Having said that, it is these material possessions that Willy lusts after with the mindset that when he gets more of them, he will be happy. What Willy doesn’t seem to know is the fact that he has a loving family which is drifting away from him every day whilst he longs to be a success like Howard, Charley, Stanley or Ben.
The fact that Willy’s problems are universal makes him easy for the audience to relate to. The problems when Miller wrote the play were all to do with the Wall Street crash and this meant that the ‘American dream’ was even more prevalent at the time of writing. The idea of the American dream is an area in which Miller explores to a very full extent and it’s ironic to see that although the dream is thought of as a way of helping people; in Willy’s life this dream has actually taken over in such a way that by the end of the play, he can no longer see the difference between the dream and his own life.
These pressures that society has piled on top of Willy have driven him into this state. The dream is actually a very unwanted added pressure in Willy’s life and it drives him mad to not be able to achieve this goal. However, the real truth is that Willy isn’t cut out for the dream and he is transformed from an ordinary man to one that lives in the future with ambitious dreams for himself, Biff and Happy. This is where the tragedy comes in; it is actually not down to any real fault of his own that the pressures of life have driven him to this point.
The play examines the cost of blind faith in the American Dream. In this respect, it offers a postwar American reading of personal tragedy in the tradition of Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle. Miller charges America with selling a false myth constructed around a capitalist materialism nurtured by the postwar economy, a materialism that obscured the personal truth and moral vision of the original American Dream described by the country’s founders. When you think about Willy’s problems in more detail, you can relate almost all of them back to the American dream.
This fact tells me that we can consider Willy to be quite a tragic figure. Due to no fault of his own, he has been urged subconsciously by American values to be well-liked and successful in the business world. This is supposedly the answer to all of his troubles but we quickly find out that the dream in killing him inside and he would be much better suited to a life such as the one that Biff lives out in the play. The ironic thing is that Willy isn’t working in an area that is normal or ordinary to him.
He pushes himself into unfamiliar surroundings in pursuit of his goal and ends up not feeling fulfilled. In my opinion, Death of a Salesman can be considered the tragedy of an ordinary man due the sole fact that Willy is actually quite a normal person and a loving husband. His attempts to secure a reasonable income for his family mean that he forgets to love them and in turn goes mad due to the fact that he wants to fulfill his goal. In my eyes, the death of Willy Loman is a huge tragedy because he never achieved his quixotic goal of true success.
Underneath all of Willy’s ambition for his Biff, Happy and himself, he is actually an ordinary man who loves his family very much. He craves success but also needs to be loved and to love. Unfortunately, in Willy’s life, he cannot sustain both and ends up a distraught wreck of a man whose tragic death is the only way he can escape his life of pressure and impossible ambitions. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.