Loman, Hamlet, and Elisin

An examination of three tragic heroes: Willy Loman, a salesman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman; Hamlet in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark”; and the horseman, Elesin, in Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.

This paper explains how there are similarities in the tragedies that befall the Loman, Hamlet, and Elesin. By the end of the narratives, all three characters die of broken hearts. It discusses how there is no triumph in their deaths; neither is there happiness. There is only bitterness and humiliation. The conflicts that these characters face come about from a mixture of personalities, personal foibles, circumstances, and from culture.
Willy Loman is a salesman by trade. Salesmanship for him is also a way of life. Salesmanship defines his very essence. Unfortunately, that is how Willy approaches life, being a husband and parent. Willy Loman’s life is all about appearances. Willy is proud of the physical prowess and athletic abilities of his sons. He does not inculcate a value-system in Biff and Happy. The end result is that both his sons are not productive or respectable citizens. Eventually, Willy realizes that, in a way, his philandering is a primary contributor to this. The family dynamic is one of salesmanship whatever sells or looks good no matter how insubstantial. Willy lives the big lie. He is unable to disassociate salesmanship as a career and a way of life. He constantly denies reality; life in turn denies him peace of mind. In Willy’s internal struggle, the salesman in him always wins out and that is his eventual undoing. When Willy dies by running his car into a neighborhood tree, one only feels for his wife. The reader knows that his sons” reaction of sadness will be fleeting at best. This is his legacy. React and move on.”