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 …show more content…
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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As such the emotions linked with tragedy in relation to the human condition are all universal leading to tragedy and the emotions associated becoming a common part of everyday life. Such as the sense of less felt upon the death of a decent human being or the fear that the events that happen hit too close to home causing realisation of their own suffering. As such tragedy is indeed a timeless genre whereupon the pathos and emotions which are invoked upon the audience can be directly linked back to the main character and their
Miller depicts Willy as a tragic character in his willingness to preserve his dignity. Additionally, Willy’s dignity is tainted in the story because of his flawed philosophy of the American Dream. This along with unjust comparisons leads to Willy’s death. Based on how Willy Loman evaluates himself unjustly, he is a tragic hero because he must do anything to preserve his dignity, and his false impression of the American Dream, which leads to his downfall.
Tragedy has been a part of drama since the time of the ancient greeks, an example of such a tragedy is Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Since then tragedy has been adapted to adhere to different societal views and conventions, such that of the american theatre. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, is an example of that. Both plays fall into the category of tragedy, but exemplify it through different aspects in their respective heroes. The roles of Oedipus and Willy Loman as tragic heroes convey the meanings of the works as wholes through the use of the literary devices dramatic irony and imagery.
According to the paper, Shakespeare’s criteria includes being from a noble birth, having a fatal character flaw, and dying due to this flaw. Although Willy does not fit, the author found another way for Willy to be considered as a tragic hero by Shakespeare’s requirements. “Willy is universal in the sense that he embodies hopes, dreams, and fears which could be typical of all of us.” (xi) The reader can see throughout the story Willy’s hopes, dreams, fears, and, most importantly,
Instead, Tack chases the path that makes him more accepted and this prevents him from uncovering his hidden potential. Similarly, in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman desires this same approval and acceptance. Willy, having grown up without a father figure, is extremely doubtful of his parenting and admits that, “[he is] afraid [he is] not teaching [Biff and Happy] the right [values]” (Miller 52). Due to his own insecurity in his parenting ability, Willy turns to Ben for approval and asks him “how [he] should teach [Biff and Happy]” (Miller 52). By continually looking for Ben’s approval, Willy limits his abilities and fails to be an adequate parent for Happy and Biff.
“The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead” (33). In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller uses foil characters to elucidate Willy’s flaws that ultimately prevent him and his family from succeeding. The contrast between Charley and Willy and Bernard and Biff serves to highlight how Willy’s obsession with achieving his version of the American Dream impacts both his life and his children’s. His poor values are passed on to his children producing even more failures. ¬¬¬¬Both Charley and Willy work as salesmen, however Charley represents what Willy desired to become – successful.
Willy Loman is the central figure of the play. He’s an untalented but energetic man gripped by the American dream. Willy’s personality disintegrates as he moves into his 60’s and his strength begins to fail him. He commits suicide in hope of earning thousands in life insurance for his wife and two sons. Over the course of the play, he is presented as a complex person who hides deep insecurity beneath bluster and drive, relying on his handsome and athletic sons to compensate for his own sense of inadequacy.
Arthur Miller carves theme of loss in his play “The Death of a Salesman”. He achieves illustrating this theme through the characters in the Lowman family. Arthur Miller deliberately makes Willy Lowman a salesman. This career demonstrates to the reader that Willy possesses the character traits of a salesman. For instance, for a salesman to become successful, an abundance of sales.
Willy Loman is a salesman having two sons and a wife, He had to earn money from his house and his wife for groceries. Willy is a man who desire to attain the unattainable American Dream. Willy also had many reality and illusion moment in this play. He some time dream of success that is not possible for him to achieve, and he turn it into an illusion for people around him that he is a successful man. The truth is if Willy has been true to himself and not desire attention from others, he would not become a salesman and live in the city.
He has a Job, two kids, and a wife. Willy is a salesman who dreams to be like his role model, Dave Singleman. Singleman - in Willy perspective- had the ultimate successful life, as expressed in this quote: "Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people?" [Act 2] Willy believed that success, was equivalent to how well liked he was. Willy's 'flaw' was his foolish pride, his persistence of achieving "his rightful status".
Ultimately, these aspirations lead to negative repercussions. First of all, the pursuit of perfection can be observed by the actions of a particular individual in Death of a Salesman. The main character of the play, Willy Loman, was a man with misguided life goals. A rather insecure person, Willy placed strong emphasis on his reputation and self-image. He wanted more than anything else to be a popular salesman well-liked by everyone around him – it was the perfect portrayal of himself.
His pursuit in this unrealistic expectation led to shortcomings that, not only dragged him down, but dragged down the people around him. In “Death of a Salesman”, Arthur Miller uses strong symbolism, powerful diction, and blatant foreshadowing to show that Willy Loman drags suffering onto the people around him. Miller uses physical objects as symbols of Willy’s failures and strong desire for validation. In one instance Willy questions Stanley
Aristotle once said, A tragedy is the 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 catharsis of these emotions. Therefore, in order to comprehend the tragic aspects of this play in particular,