Death of a Salesman Willy as a Tragic Figure

Willy Loman as an American Tragic Figure
Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is an American tragic figure because his delusional, excessive pride leads to his failure in securing his sense of dignity and ultimately, his death. His idea of what helps a person become successful does not match up with reality, so Willy is constantly trying to distinguish between what is real and what is fantasy. Many opportunities come for Willy to stray from the inevitable path of self-destruction, but his false ego gets the best of him and leads him to reject his chances at achieving a better American Dream. Willy’s inability to hold on to his self-worth causes tensions in his business life, social life, as well as family life. A man who tries to have the best intentions in his actions, Willy sets his mind on wrong ideas for wealth and worth that eventually cause him to be stripped of his dignity.
Refusing to look like a failure in society, Willy tries to keep his dignity intact by lying to everyone around him and giving bad advice. His desire for pride leads him to advise Biff and Happy that “the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want” (Miller 21). Willy believes that success in business comes from being well-liked, not from working hard for it. Although Willy tries to have the best intentions for his family, he gives bad advice to his children because he does not want to appear worthless. Looking like a letdown in the eyes of his family would strip him of his pride.   Therefore, he conceals the truth that he is not worth as much as he thinks he is. He admits to the Woman that “I get so lonely—especially when business is bad and there’s nobody to talk to. I get the feeling that I’ll never sell anything again, that I won’t make a living for you, or a business, a business for the boys” (25). Willy is afraid of disappointing the people who love him, and...