Death Of A Salesman Aristotle Analysis

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Parallels between Aristotle’s Poetics and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Aristotle wrote Poetics in 335BC and in that discourse he defined the elements of a tragedy and compared it to other plays like an Epic. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which was written over two thousand years after Aristotle’s Poetics, can easily be considered a modern Aristotelian tragedy. Thereby, a study of Death of a Salesman can help us to understand Aristotle’s Poetics.

First off, Aristotle defines a tragedy as “an imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in appropriate and pleasurable language;… in a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a
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It is not a vice that results in his downfall, but some error or frailty. In “Death of a Salesman” Willy can be characterized as a tragic hero. Willy began as a great and successful man but due to his error of judgment, he looses it all and in the end he realizes that he is worth more dead than alive. Aristotle says that a hero must be, firstly, good. Willy Loman is a good man with good intentions. He wants happiness for his family. Second, Aristotle says is propriety, the character should be appropriate. Willy does commit human sins, but he never utters anything less than good advice, which befits his status as the head of the family. Thirdly, the character should be true to life. Willy’s sins are what makes him fit to the definition of true to life. Throughout the play, audience can really relate to Willy Loman’s character, his flaws and his sins. The last point Aristotle presents is that the character should be consistent or consistently inconsistent. Willy fits both definitions. Willy’s and action and the results are what we expect of him. He is a salesman, and as expected he struggles. He is overbearing on his children, and as expected they grow up confused. His struggles begin when he looses his job, at the end we expect him to kill himself, which he does. According to Aristotle, tragic hero should be able to arise the feelings of pity and fear in the minds of audience. Willy’s failure to accept his own inadequacy is what causes catharsis that characterizes a tragedy. Catharsis refers to purification or cleansing and purgation of emotions, especially pity and fear. It is Willy Loman’s hamartia that evokes the feelings of pity and fear in audience’s emotions. Pity is felt because we do not find a significant moral flaw in Willy’s character and his downfall evokes the feeling of fear from his audience. Hence
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