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Critics believe that Arthur Miller uses Death of a Salesman to convey a social...

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lyd-wil | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 8, 2013 at 2:06 AM via web

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Critics believe that Arthur Miller uses Death of a Salesman to convey a social commentary on American society. I need to prepare a one-page essay that explains how this is true.


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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 8, 2013 at 3:02 AM (Answer #1)

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One fruitful avenue of exploration is the idea that Willy Loman was a tragic hero. This might not be very insightful today, but when Miller wrote the play, it was ground breaking. 

From a traditional point of view, tragic heroes, could not be common people. As early a Aristotle, the tragic hero was considered someone nobly born, who had a tragic fall that led to his or her downfall. The prime example is, of course, Oedipus, who was the son of a king and who had considerable talent. 

When we come to Willy Loman, he was none of these things. He was a travelling salesman. Moreover, he accomplished little in life. And when he died, his life mounted to nothing. How tragic! The fact that Willy Loman could be tragic was a shot to the American psyche. If Willy could be a tragic hero, then the common American could be tragic as well. From this perspective, Miller is making a commentary on American culture. 


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