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Death of a Salesman as a Tragedy

In a Death of a Salesman as a tragedy, Miller’s play Death of a Salesman offers a clear example of how tragic the life of an individual or an entire family’s lives may turn out when the wrong or false values are adopted in the pursuit of personal goals or more distinctly, the pursuit of the American dream.  Although the play’s author Arthur Miller contends that “Death of a Salesman” was not intended as a tragedy, it has distinct qualities that have contributed to the perception that it is representative of a tragic play.

Death of a Salesman as a Tragedy

On the play’s fitness as a tragedy Miller stated, "I think it does engender tragic feelings, at least in a lot of people. Let's say it's one kind of tragedy. I'm not particularly eager to call it tragedy or anything else; the label doesn't matter to me".

Willy Loman’s story is a tragedy in so much as it represents the misfortune of man’s demise when he is taken over by his weaknesses and even worse, is persuaded by misguided values to pursue a life of unhappiness and ultimately destruction.  It is also a tragedy in so much as Loman’s pattern of behavior, his personality and the attitudes he imparts on his boys Biff and Happy negatively influences them as well. 

Willy Loman’s untimely but purposeful death offers a striking proof that the application of false values cannot have a positive end, regardless of how passionately they are ascribed by the individual.  Miller writes that, in Loman, he has attempted to “personify certain values which civilized men, in the twentieth century, share".  Fortunately, Miller’s play offers an open perspective on what may be considered a common human circumstance as well as the groundwork for consideration on how to prevent a demise similar to that of Loman. 

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