Death of a Salesman Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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Is Death of a Salesman a Greek tragedy according to Aristotle? 

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One would have to say that no, Death of a Salesman is not a tragedy according to Aristotelian principles. For one thing, the play doesn't adhere to the three dramatic unities of time, place, and action. A lot of the play's significant action—such as Willy's meeting with his sons at Frank's Chop House and his being fired by Howard—takes place away from the Lomans' house and over a period of time considerably greater than a single day. Miller's frequent use of flashbacks also undermines the three unities, though they are absolutely essential to the dramatic unity of the play, even if they radically depart from Aristotle's principles.

Also, the protagonist of the play, Willy Loman, does not experience a reversal of fortune, as per Aristotle's stipulation. He begins the play down on his luck and filled with suicidal thoughts, and ends the play six feet under having finally done what we'd always thought he'd do.

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mrs-tolley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Death of a Salesman is not a Greek Tragedy, according to Aristotle.

Basically, a...

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