I’m a fan of literary masterpieces. They often present the complexities of human nature and the lessons we can derive from them. One of the greatest modern literary tragedies was the play, “The Death of a Salesman,” by Arthur Miller. Here you meet Willie Loman, an ordinary common man.
Willie Loman lived his life based on the belief that success is making money and being well liked. Willie dies a lonely and destitute man, taking his own life in order to get insurance money which would prove he was successful.
According to philosopher Aristotle, the power of a great tragic hero is a combination of nobleness plus some tragic flaw.
Willie is noble. He’s willing to die for what he believes in. It is this belief that is his tragic flaw. He truly believes that if a man makes money and is well liked, he is a success. The enormous power of such belief led to his self destruction.
The world helps us destroy our selves with this belief. In its myth, money and its symbols become the measure of what it means to make it.
T.S. Eliot once wrote, “This was a decent godless people. Their only monument the asphalt road and a thousand lost golf balls.” In this quote, Eliot made a strong indictment on the hopelessness of modern man.
… unless something happens to break out of the cultural, addictive trance.