Willy Loman

1183 Words 5 Pages
There are many pieces of literature that are deemed by many as the supreme work of fiction, ranging from prose to memoirs to stage plays. From J.D. Salinger 's The Catcher in the Rye to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, every intellectual has their own piece of work they deem a staple in English literature. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is also in this category. A man who was a didactic and a moralist, Miller has carved a name for himself through his work (Bryfonski 342).
Arthur Miller, famous playwright and author of such works as: All My sons, Death of a Salesman, The The Crucible, and A View From a Bridge, was born in Harlem, New York on the 17th of October, 1915 (Riley 327)(Galvin). Having lived in an affluent family, his life was
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Other variations of this style occur with younger versions of main characters, strutting into frame alongside their older counterparts, as well as in the form of Willy’s mistress, only ever labeled as The Woman. A second characteristic that is apparent in Death of a Salesman is the reformation, or altered presentation, of classical ideals (White). In this case, Miller refashions the ancient Greek style of tragedies (Elsom 374). Greek tragedies, in the Aristotelian sense, have protagonists with great power; they have much to lose, not only in fortune but in personal effects as well. They also have as unity of time; having one main action that it follows with no sub-plots and take up roughly twenty-four hours (Gregory 396). Arthur Miller picks and chooses which characteristics to use, forming a modern tragic hero of sorts. Willy Loman is not a man of power or wealth; he cannot afford to pay off living expenses and occupies a profession where he is no longer respected, yet holds the similar trait of tragic heroes of being a product fate. In Death of a Salesman, Willy does not fall from power, but has the vail of the American dream pulled from his eyes. The true fall of Willy Loman is when he “is suddenly aware of the futility of [his life] thus far” and no longer deems his existence worth living . Critics and playgoers alike understood Miller 's Modern characteristics and his take on the American dream, …show more content…
Many consider Death of a Salesman to be the foundational work for all future American tragedies, and even claim that “Willy Loman has become our quintessential American tragic hero...spiraling towards suicide as an act of selfless grace...”. (Oates 17). Joyce Oates, herself a playwright, read and adored Death of a Salesman as a teenager during its original run in 1950; praising Miller’s ability to have Willy Loman be a relatable character to any one person, she wrote, “Willy Loman is raised from the parameters of regionalism and ethnic specificity to the level of the more purely, symbolically ‘American.’ Even the claustrophobia of his private familial and sexual obsessions has a universal quality, in the plaintive-poetic language Miller has chosen for him” (Oates 18). Others also approved of Miller’s criticism of the American dream, and felt that Miller’s plays constitute “some of the most devastating comments ever made on the American way of life” (Riley 332). Critical acclaim from fellow peers and critics aside, in an ocean of praise there are bound to be currents flowing in opposite directions. Miller’s work was and is currently deemed by some a “naturalistic sob-story...some scenes are embarrassing in their statement in the obvious” (Elsom 375). Miller’s heavy-handedness is remarked upon

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