Hamlet vs Death of a SalesmanProve that Willy Loman is more of a tragic hero than hamlet.Also what level of success do Biff and Hamlet achieve in exposing a kind of corruption or illusion that...

Hamlet vs Death of a Salesman

Prove that Willy Loman is more of a tragic hero than hamlet.
Also what level of success do Biff and Hamlet achieve in exposing a kind of corruption or illusion that ruins lives in each of their respective societies?

Asked on by preefated

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

It's difficult to compare Willy to Hamlet because the struggles a tragic hero endures, by Aristotelian definition, are meant to be of high purpose and deeply meaningful. Willy's struggles have to do with the very common and mundane problems of his view of himself and his sons, while Hamlet's struggles have to do with avenging the murder of a king, who is also his father. One way that it might be proved that Willy is, nonetheless, the more tragic hero is to argue that he suffers more deeply on a personal internal level than does Hamlet. Hamlet's suffering is grief over the loss of his father and the rise of his detested uncle and the marriage of his mother combined with confusion over what he should do about the injunction to seek revenge. Willy's suffering is over his failure as a man, a father and a provider. Willy's suffering has more depth of angst on an introspective personal level.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Hamlet seems to me to be the more noble tragic hero, for sure, because he does not take his own life. Both are disillusioned men, but Hamlet at least does something to move forward. I do not find Willy to be a tragic character as much as a pathetic one. Even if I give them the same adjective--tragic--I would say Willy is a tragic character but Hamlet is a tragic hero, for he at least accomplished something worthy before dying. His cause, avenging his father's death, is certainly more noble than Willy's, which is self-serving. 

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

On the surface, these two characters seem very different. However they do have something in common. They both face extreme mental angst. They both sacrifice themseles. Ultimately, they both meet the definition of tragic hero in different ways, if at all.
timbrady's profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

He's not.  He's a different kind of tragic hero.  Hamlet represents the more "traditional" tragic hero ... a noble man, not perfect, but with a flaw that leads to his downfall (simplified definition :)).   Miller has a different view of the tragic hero.  He believes that anyone can be a tragic hero; that a democracy changes the way we see the heroic.  You can read about it in Miller's essay "Tragedy and the Common Man" available at http://vccslitonline.cc.va.us/tragedy/milleressay.htm.  I would suggest that you read it for more information.

I don't know that either Biff or Hamlet actually expose anything that has to do with corruption/illusion.  Biff exposes some of his Dad's illusions about himself, but Biff has so many about himself that it's hard to trust anything he says/thinks.  His inability to accept his Willy as a complex character (perhaps not possible at his age and in his world) lead him to reject his father instead of trying to understand him.  He reminds me of another Miller character, Chris, in "All My Sons" or Young Goodman Brown in Hawthorne's story of the same name.  I don't see much future for Biff/Happy, and I don't think Willy is to blame; after all they are "grown" (as least old enough to be) men.  Just as 
Willy struggled, so will they.

 

 

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