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Willy Loman
Abbie, Flora, Ruby and Steph.
Contribution to Willy’s TRAGIC
• Willy is a contradicting character in the play. He features the
common man, yet he himself is not ‘normal’, he is suffering from
some form of mental illness.
• Looking at the idea of tragedy in traditional plays hamartia refers to
a concept used by Aristotle to describe tragedy. Linking this the
‘Death Of A Salesman’ this refers to how Willy is the protagonist in
the play, displaying a hero with a fatal flaw yet of noble stature...
Despite this, he is not a conventional hero, he has a ‘mercurial
nature’, unpredictable, fluctuating between hopeful and happy, to
depressed and suicidal.
• Features of a classical tragedy involve; unity of time (psychic and
social time) and the fact that the play spans over 24hrs, unity of
action in the play within itself and the unity of place because the
setting doesn’t change.
Opinion on Willy
During childhood he admired Willy, aimed to fulfil his dreams in order to please him,
they had a close relationship.
However, after discovering that he was having an affair Biff lost all respect for his
father, calling him a calling him ‘a phoney, you’re a fake, you’re a phoney little fake.’
Since discovering his father’s affair Biff’s opinion of him was lowered extremely and
since he has despised him for what he has done.
After returning home and seeing how Willy’s mental state has deteriorated he is
angry at him for embarrassing himself.
Throughout his childhood Happy’s aim in life seems to be to please Willy.
In later life Happy is more considerate towards his father than Biff, he seems to feel
more sorry for him than his brother does.
Just wants Willy to be happy, and does all she can in order to ensure this.
She does this by mothering him – ‘takes off his shoes’, ‘helps him put on his coat’.
Key Characteristics
Some of the key characteristics portrayed by Willy Loman are:
He is both physically and mentally exhausted – ‘I’m tired to the death’
He is dissatisfied with his life – ‘Funny, y’know? After all the highways, and the trains,
and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.’
‘he’s liked but he’s not, well liked’
He doesn’t appreciate what he has achieved in his life, he doesn’t appreciate his family
and his house, but focus’ on what he hasn’t got.
Tries to live his life through Biff, but subsequently puts pressure on their relationship.
Suffering psychological degeneration – ‘Biff is a lazy bum’ but he suddenly changes to
‘…There’s one thing about Biff –he’s not lazy’
The motif running throughout the play is Willy’s delusional values and morals. That is; the
value of the cult of personality, being well liked and good looking. ‘Be well liked and you will
never want’. In Willy’s eyes, being athletic and well built is more of an achievement than
being academically intelligent.
• ‘I’m vital in New England’.
• ‘Bernard is not well liked is he?’
Charlie, Willy’s ‘only friend’
• What is ironic in the play is that even though Willy
values success through having many friends and
being ‘well liked’. Willy only has one friend, Charlie.
Yet he despises him. In the scene where Charlie
offers Willy a job in his own office, Willy tells Charlie
he is his only friend, the use of ‘remarkable’ links
back to earlier in the play when Willy describes his
reliving of driving in the Chevy as ‘remarkable’.