Death of a Salesman – Pride; the Deterioration of Dignity Essay

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A tragic hero is commonly known as a character of nobility that undergoes a fatal change which ultimately results in a tragedy. Arthur Miller, however, has a slightly different view in regards to what a tragic hero is. He asserts that a tragic hero does not necessarily have to be a character of nobility, instead can be an average person in possession of a tragic flaw. In Death of a Salesman, a play written by Arthur Miller, the criteria of a modern tragic hero are best expressed and demonstrated through the main character, Willy Loman. Willy Loman’s tragic flaw would be his excessive and unwarranted pride. This is because his pride causes him to live his life in a world of delusion, ultimately resulting in his very death. Willy’s …show more content…
When Bernard asks Willy why Biff didn’t take math up in summer school, Willy replies:
Why? Why? Bernard, that question has been trailing me like a ghost for the last fifteen years. He flunked the subject, and laid down like a hammer hit him! (Miller, p-73)
Willy makes it seem to Bernard as if he played no part in the destruction of Biff’s education, and makes it seem like it was solely Biff’s fault. However, Willy knows the real reason why Biff dropped out on his education. He knows that Biff was angry at him for what happened at the hotel; however lives his life in denial while making it seem as if his relationship with Biff is fine. Because Willy has so much pride in himself, he will always convince himself that he has done his best, even when he knows that he has done wrong. As a father, Willy should be doing all he can in order to patch up the relationship with his son. But because of his pride, Willy will live in denial, and will convince himself that there is no relationship in need of being fixed in the first place. Even before the hotel incident, Willy’s father-son relationship with Biff wasn’t exactly proper. This is because even though Willy and Biff may not have been in a direct conflict with each other, Willy was instilling the wrong morals into Biff (and Happy), practically setting up the destruction of their relationship. For example, Willy would tell Biff and Happy:

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