Death of a Salesman is a tragic play written by the prominent American playwright Arthur Miller in 1949. It premiered for the first time in February 1949 on Broadway. This tragic play has been performed almost 742 times.
This Play is tragic because it fulfills all the requirements to be called a Tragic play. According to Aristotle- by exciting pity and fear, tragedy brings about the catharsis of such emotions. A Tragic play is supposed to be made of elements like sorrow, sentiment struggles in life, a hero’s death, the protagonist’s downfall, and many others. “Death of a Salesman ” deals with the poor and life struggles, leading to the death of the protagonist of this Play, whose name was Willy Loman, a salesman by profession. Willy Loman had a wife and two sons: Biff and Happy Loman. He earns 65 dollars per week, but he got this money by commission. He was not paid a salary. Willy Loman is a common middle-class man who has faced only problems in his life, and at the end of the Play, he dies.
Death of a Salesman as a Tragedy
Willy Loman’s home was in installments he could not pay due to economic issues. Willy Loman was an old salesman, that’s why he was unable to travel, and thus he could not sell a large number of products. Hence, the salesman’s company felt no profit in giving him a salary, so they paid him only a commission per product. His elder son Biff Loman was also paid less so the family could live a happy life. One day the Loman family decided to open a new business for which they needed money.
Willy Loman went to his boss Wagner asking for help, but he refused to help him, and Wagner fired Willy Loman instead of helping him. Willy had also tried to ask for a settled job in New York, but they said he had no job. Willy was disappointed by his boss’ behavior. He had done so much for that company, but in return, he got insulted. Willy Loman was desperate and afraid to tell his sons that he was now jobless. Biff was also supposed to get money from his boss Bill Oliver, but his request was refused. The Loman family was stressed.
Apart from all these, Willy Loman’s mental health was not good. He often falls into hallucinations. He is unable to differentiate between past and present. He often talks with Uncle ( Biff and Happy’s uncle) Ben, whom he considers his brother, but this person is only present in Willy’s fantasy world, not realistically. He reminiscences Uncle Ben offering him a job in Alaska but refuses. Sometimes he gets lost in the sweet memories of his son’s childhood.
Death of a Salesman as a Tragedy
Willy and his elder son Biff often had controversy because Biff knew about his father’s extramarital affair with another outsider woman. Biff does not like his father betraying her mother, but he cannot reveal the truth about his father. Willy Loman was upset with Biff because he was his elder son, but he earned less.
Willy’s neighbor Charlie had helped him economically many times. And he had offered him jobs several times, too, but He felt insulting working under him, so he did not agree to the job. He had life insurance, so he thought that if he died, then the Loman family would get money for his death. He had tried many times to suicide, but somehow he survived the last attempt he was successful. Thus this Play ends with a death, which is quite enough to describe this Play as a tragedy.