• Does Willy experience a moment of tragic recognition (anagnorisis) before his death in Death of a Salesman and, if so, does it involve an increase in his self-knowledge and awareness?

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Willy Loman is not a tragic hero in the Aristotelian sense, and Death of a Salesman is not an Aristotelian tragedy. As Aristotle defined the tragedy, its hero must be a great person—a king or nobleman, for example—who, because of a tragic flaw (usually hubris) experiences a reversal of fortune. Both the bad and the good suffer because of the hero's faults. Before the end, that change of fortune causes the hero to realize the error of his ways. The enlightenment, the move from ignorance to knowledge, is called the anagnorisis.

Willy Loman doesn't fit Aristotle's prescription for a tragic hero. His very name tips us off that he is not a great person—he is a "low man." Although at various points throughout the play, Willy lets slip certain truths about himself—that people don't like him, that he's not funny, that he doesn't earn enough money—he quickly covers those truths up again. As Biff remarks, "We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house!" Willy continues in that...

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