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The question of why Willy commits suicide is of course central.The title Death of a Salesman raises it even before the play begins.
The forces that drove Willy to kill himself were perhaps; escape, from the empty and bitter reality of his life; revenge, for his sons' disrespect and resentment; power, in taking action when everything seems hopeless; courage, to lay down his life; victory, finally being able to make a profitable deal, and, by redeeming his life insurance policy, giving his son a fortune, understanding, that he went wrong, this is the true realisation and is similar to King Lear at his death with Cordelia.
So Willy Loman wreaks havoc on his own life and on that of his sons.
Biff's epiphany and liberation to conquer the greatness of the American Spiritual Dream of equity, is a strong message from Miller to his audience.
Freedom is available to all men whom face up to their flaws, and whom are courageous like Biff.
Willy is intense and passionate and cares about his dream enough to sacrifice his life to it.
He has alternatives, but he chooses to live in a certain way that brings about his downfall that is the difference between Willy and his salesman neighbour Charley who chooses other ways of achieving success.
The definition of tragedy has changed over the course of time with its origins dating back as far as 350BC, when the Greek philosopher Aristotle introduced the concept of hubris, or a man's arrogance and hamartia, a man's fatal flaw. The pressures Willy has put on himself to conform to something he is not, have led to his gradual breakdown and therefore Howard Wagner, the junior of the Wagner Company that Willy has loyally worked for, for 36 years can no longer offer him a position in the company and therefore has to 'sack' Willy.
A tragic hero in the traditional Greek sense is where a king or noble man ultimately dies after making a wrong choice because of his fatal flaw and thus the tragic death of the hero affects not only the noble man, but his people and society too. Quite ironic as Howard is a man much like Willy, in his way of thinking ultimately for his business and for his family, a man whom obeys the American Capitalist Dream.
These issues would have been such that most working men and women could to relate to at the time the play was produced.
Miller a man personally affected by the promises of the capitalist American Dream saw that he could use his play to reach out to his audience as escapism from the realities and pressures of the capitalist world.