Introduction: Arthur Miller (1915-2005) in his play “Death of a Salesman” (1949) presented Willy Loman as a tragic character. A tragic hero is a character who represents consequences that contain one or more personal faults or are doomed by a certain fate. Theoretically, as a literary device, the purpose of a tragic protagonist is to arouse sympathy and fear in the audience through the protagonist’s flaws and consequent fall.
Tragic flaw of Willy Loman
The tragic fault causes the downfall of the hero. It indicates the three facts such as ignorance of circumstances, the error of judgment, and voluntary commitment to error.
Willy Loman has a tragic flaw which is his high ambition. He wants to be a successful man in America. In the drama, the elder brother of Willy Loman, Ben has been a successful businessman at age of 21. Ben is the paradigm of quick success and Willy Loman wants to be a successful businessman like Ben but he fails in his life until his death.
He wants to see his sons in great positions. He wants to see his son as a successful businessman. He cannot face reality. He has an American dream which symbolizes name, fame, and money is the main tragic flaw of his life.
More Notes: Death of a Salesman
We see that Willy Loman borrows money from Charley for maintaining family because he doesn’t get a fixed salary from the Wagner Company. He thinks this does not hamper his self-fame but When Charley offers him a job, he does refuse it being concerned about his egotism.
From the above discussion, we can assert that Willy Loman is the tragic character of the drama since the characteristic of a tragic character are well-matched with him.