Death of a Salesman Discussion

Discussion of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Willy Loman is too naïve and superficial to be the hero of a tragedy. To what extent would you agree with this view?

What is a tragic hero?
Willys not a tragic hero- as its someone whose great
Do we feel pity or fear for him (catharsis)?
Flaws in Willy’s character
Views on Biffs occupation
Quotes that support his naivety
The American dream- obsession
Selfless act of dying- brave or foolish
His views on wealth (refer to brother Ben)
How being short of money had impact on his wealth

Willy envisaged a much more successful life for himself, but in reality he was a failure as he tried to attain those unattainable goals. We feel sympathy for his misguided path through life, and disgust for the way he has blindly pursued it, ruining himself and his family in the process.

Willy instilled his sons with the same warped values that have poisoned his own life. In the flashback scenes, when Willy sees his son Biff as a young man, he marvels at his good looks
and popularity, sure that these qualities will equal a remarkable life for Biff.

His flaw is that he covets the wrong dream. He believes that the American Dream is to be rich. But really, it's about freedom and love. Both of which he already has. He owns his home, and he is loved by his two boys and wife. Also he believes the way to get rich is by having a good personality and not through hard work.

Willy dies, as tragic heroes must do, but his death affirms that the beliefs to which he has clung have ultimately destroyed him. I think Willy’s suicide should be interpreted as a noble sacrifice, the only way to help Biff make something of himself. He still believes that the only true value of a man’s worth is how much he is liked and how much he has.

I feel that at the end of Death of a Salesman the audience does feel a sense of catharsis in that Biff Loman has finally found himself, Willy is finally “free” of earthly unhappiness, and the Loman family are finally “free” from Willy’s “little cruelties.”