Tragic Death of a Salesman: A Hegelian Perspective

Seda Can

Abstract


The Pulitzer winner Death of a Salesman is a play written by Arthur Miller and first performed in 1949. The play portrays a period in which the negative effects of the Great Depression, which turned the ‘American dream’ into a struggle for survival, were felt by its great intensity. The play is about the struggle of an ordinary man, Willy Loman, and his family trying to survive in a materialistic and ruthless atmosphere. The same year the play was first performed, Arthur Miller wrote an article which is called ‘Tragedy and the Common Man’. In this article, he claims that the ordinary man in modern life may also be the subject of tragedy as the great heroes of ancient times and that the works of modern tragedies can meet the standards set by older theories of tragedy. In order to investigate if this claim is provable or not, Arthur Miller’s own work Death of a Salesman examined according to the criterion of G.W. Hegel’s theory of tragedy which has been the most influential and discussed next to Aristotle’s theory of tragedy. As a result of the study, Miller’s claim proved itself to be true since the play Death of a Salesman meets all the standards set by Hegel.


Keywords


Hegel; Theory of Tragedy; Arthur Miller; Death of a Salesman .

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