The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Requiem and its relation to the story of Death of A salesman

20 October 2010:

1- Homework
2- Requiem
3- Group discussion
4- Is Willy a Tragic hero?
5- Bonus Task

1 –Homework: (Due After Half Term)

Essay Question:
“Is Willy Loman A tragic hero?

Research Question:
Find out Expressionism & Realism in theatre

What is the flute all about?

2 –Requiem:

A mass (Catholic celebration) where people honour/ pray for dead person
Point of the requiem is… (Continue sentence):
- Why did Miller include it?
- What additional information do we learn about Willy?
- Why is this important?
- Does it tell us anything else about what Miller is trying to say with his play?

Why is it used? (Millers viewpoint):

“But the key is in the requiem at the end”

“What is the point of a funeral? You want to think over the life of the departed and it’s in there. Really, that it’s nailed down: he won’t accept his life.”

“However I did not realize while writing the play that so many people in the world do not see as clearly, or would not admit, as I thought they must, how futile most lives are; so there could be no hope of consoling the audience for the death of this man.”

“This man is actually a very brave spirit who cannot settle for half but must pursue his dream of himself to the end. That this was no dumb brute heading mindlessly to his catastrophe.”

My Interpretations:

Willy’s death in this story is not because he has given up on life as most people have thought. But in fact he is defying it. As a man who cannot accept defeat (even if it was going wrong) “a very brave spirit who cannot settle for half but must pursue his dream of himself to the end”. His death was to express his raging (mentioned in previous Death of a salesman blog) His death also proves that it has been planned for a long time and he knows he has died for a reason giving his family a new fresh start in life “this was no dumb brute heading mindlessly to his catastrophe.”

3- Group Discussion (Analysing Characters Viewpoints on Willy’s life):


- He never saw his dad “winning” so he tells the others not to blame him for killing himself.
- But Deep down He sees his father as a liar and a fake
o Blaming him for everything which altered his life
o He has been prevented from seeing his strengths and weaknesses clearly (stuck in mentality of teenager)
o Realises Willy’s death is trying to take control of his life
- “He Didn’t know himself”
- Forgetting that the stoop was constructed from stolen materials, Biff muses fondly, "there's more of him in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made.“


- Didn’t know charley as well as his family though he cared for him
- Relates to American Dream (successful)
- Biff & Charley conflicts their views about the American dream
o Biff: Understands failures of it
o Charley: Bought in to it more
- Charley understands Willy’s death as a sacrifice for his sons “ nobody dast blame this man” having a more objective viewpoint
o And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back – that’s an earthquake. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.” (1264)
o Self contradictory, both realistic about forgiving and generous to Willy.
o Lack of foundation or substance to Willy’s dream and capitalism as a whole


- Doesn’t understand why Willy took his own life instead of confiding with his family
o “Had no right to do it” “We would’ve helped him.” Empty promise
- Hopes to do Willy proud
o “He had a good dream” maintain Willy’s dream and his fight
- He Hints at regret; Not making the most of his time with his father
- “I’m gonna show you that Willy Loman didn’t die in vain.”
o Admires Willy’s dreams without admiring Willy himself


- “Why didn’t anyone come?”
o Told a lot of stories about how successful Willy is, She half believed them
- “maybe they blame him” “they wouldn’t blame him”
o Switches between believing and not believing him. She is dutiful to the point of encouraging Willy in his delusions (gone on for long time)
- She has more authority over the two boys
- Her character epitomises Willy’s destructive path – blocking attitude.

4- -Is Willy Loman a tragic Hero?

How well does Willy match these criteria?

- born at the start of play
- king or leader of noble birth
- must suffer more than deserves
- faces and accepts death with honour
- learns from mistakes
- responsible for own fate
- falls from esteem
- realizes s/he made a mistake
- meets a tragic death


- Miller argues that tragedy is not restricted to kings and queens
- the common man is capable of heroism and tragedy
- Miller's tragedy = The result of an individual's quest for personal dignity and occurs when an individual attempts to evaluate existence justly.
- tragic flaw = an unwillingness to submit passively to the established order and values
- in Willy's descent, there is a tragic paradox; for as he moves towards inevitable destruction, he acquires that knowledge, that sense of reconciliation, which allows him to conceive a redemptive plan for his house
- Loman, the contemporary her, embarks upon a most courageous Odyssey: the descent into the self, where he engages his most dangerous enemy, himself.


- In the traditional sense, Willy is neither noble nor heroic
- does not measure up to the stature of a great and good man
- a small man, a mere failure who does not have the sufficient grace to warrant universal concern
- doesn't have just one tragic flaw - he has many (disloyal, headstrong, short tempered, proud, false, etc)
- common man is not of high stature

5- Bonus Task:

- Write a commentary on the requiem.
o ...showing what it adds to the play and what you feel about it as an ending.

There’s my blog hopefully this has helped you out
Good luck.

Criticism on blog will be good thanks.

Best wishes

Chris. 张


  1. Thanks Chris. A very thorough record of the lesson.

  2. WooW... that was real good!

    I think that Willy is a tragic he hero as he died for something he believed in, he died trying.

    Esmeralda ;)

  3. Absolutely terrible blog...well done!

    i think Willy plays the role of a tragic hero as even when he dies, he dies morally

    Saways xx

  4. I think through Miller's definition of Tragedy, Willy Loman certainly is a tragic hero whereas the Aristotelian definition Willy isn't a tragic hero.

    Beautiful post Chris - twas awesome!

  5. Good blog post etc. etc.

    Agree with Sonny with what he said about him being a tragic hero only in Miller's case - as Miller wanted to prove that tragic heroes didn't always have to be the most noble of men.

    Daniel C.

  6. I think Willy is a tragic hero full stop. The only thing Miller diverted from was the oppressive aristotlean views of tragic heroism, which subjected lay people to the social and cultural domination of upper nobilities.

  7. At the beggining of the play I didn't like Willy's character much because I didn't understand why he acts the way he does. However as we found out more about his motives I began to see that all he really wanted was for his children to become the best they possibly can be. Therefore I do believe that he is a tragic hero, as he died for the cause he has been fighting for his whole life.

    P.S.- Very informative blog post Chris, well done.


  8. willy is a modern tragic hero according to the Renaissance, but he isnt in propect to the Aristotelian views of a tragic hero. The capitalist ideologies and his death certainly staple his position of A Modern Tragic Hero.

    Really good, detailed blog Chris!

    Chris W

  9. this blog is really good as it tells us exactly what happened that lesson

  10. i think willy could be seen as a tragic hero as his fall and death was for the benefit of his children, although he wasn't of high status or well known he is an ordinary man. much like ourselves, wouldn't you consider yourself a hero if you was to kill yourself for someone you love?

  11. Great blog Chris. It was clear and helpful, I think that the last bit of the blog - about the half term homework - was extremely useful as I used it as a guide to do my essay.