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Death Of A Salesman Vs. Hamlet

736 words - 3 pages

Willy Loman and Hamlet, two characters so alike, though different. Both areperfect examples of tragedy in literature, though for separate reasons and by distinctmethods. The definition of a tragedy, in a nutshell, states that for a character to beconsidered tragic, he/she must be of high moral estate, fall to a level of catastrophe,induce sympathy and horror in the audience, and usually die, and in doing so, re-establishorder in the society. Hamlet follows this to a 'T'. Death of a Salesman does not fallwithin these set guidelines but is still considered tragic for reasons, though different,somewhat parallel those of Hamlet's.Hamlet, a rich young price of high moral estate suddenly has his joyous liferipped away from him when his father, Hamlet Sr., suddenly passes away. Thoughoriginally thought to be of natural causes, it is later revealed to him through ...view middle of the document...

Talk about your bad days.A duel takes place between Hamlet and Laertes where Laertes, using a poison-tipped sword, cuts Hamlet, thus giving way for his impending death. Hamlet eventuallygets hold of the sword and kills Laertes, then kills King Claudius. Just as the play ends,Hamlet takes his last breath of air, appoints Fortinbras Jr. as the new King of Denmark,and dies.In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman, a salesman who believed himself to be apowerful man, has his life unravel before him as he loses his job, his sanity and therespect of those around him. Many years before, Willy had an affair. This 'dirtied' hisappearance to his son Biff, though his wife never found out. Biff later went on tobecome a drifter of sorts, dabbling in one low-paying profession after another untilfinally settling on a farm.After Willy was fired, for being too old, too inept or both, supposedly, Willypretends he's still working and doesn't let his wife in on the bad news. Too stubborn toaccept a job from his next-door neighbour, Willy is forced to lie to his family.Through visions of his older brother Ben, coupled with the degradation of hismind, Willy eventually commits suicide to ensure his son Biff's career through the LifeInsurance policy. Willy dies an empty, shallow death.Hamlet and Willy are both considered tragic. The Classical Tragedy's definitionwas tweaked with to make it a more general encompassor. A common man's injuredsense of dignity, coupled with forces beyond his control and/or ability to comprehend,displace him from his perceived place, causing the audience to recognize such andprepare itself for the inevitable finale in which the hopelessness and defeat are morepoignant than the actual death.Willy and Hamlet both fell from grace, both commited morally bankrupt acts andevetually died, giving way to a re-establishment of order. Tragic men, for differentreasons, bound together through their demeanor and their deaths.

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