Willy Loman lives in fantasy, longing for wealth and success. He entertains delusions of what he desperately wants, but could not attain due to several faults, namely his personal dignity. At the end of the play, Willy commits suicide. Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman was a tragic character because he tried to pursue the American Dream. He tried to provide for this family, and went mad in the process. He tried to hang on to his personal dignity while he was lost in his delusions of being a successful salesman. For example, when Willy lost his job, his friend and neighbor, Charley, offers Willy a job.
Willy turns it down; he replies that he has a job. Willy suddenly turns defensive; he is bent on letting Charley know that Willys job is a fine job (Miller 43; act 1). Another example of Willy trying to hold on to his personal dignity is when one night Willys shouting wakes Biff, his son, and Linda, his wife. They find him outside wandering, lost in his fantasies. Willys mental illness, according to Linda, is due to the loss of his salary. She explains that now he borrows fifty dollars from Charley a week and Willy pretends that it is his salary (Miller 52-56; act 1).
Willys personal dignity forced him into delusions of a happy family life and a successful career as a salesman. These delusions due to personal dignity set Willy on a path to self destruction. For example, Willy sees his sons as great kids, as Titans bound for marvelous things. Willys pride is what keeps him from seeing that Biff cheats and steals and Happy is an unmotivated man with no dreams. When Biff steals footballs from school, Willy calls it initiative (Miller 29-30; act 1). Willy does not want to face the reality that his sons are failures. His dignity ultimately leads to his suicide.
William Shakespeares Hamlet is the story of Prince Hamlet and his need to avenge his fathers death. Hamlet discovers that his uncle, Claudius, murdered his father in order to become king and marry Hamlets mother after Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, the King of Denmark. The ghost orders Hamlet to seek revenge on Claudius. Hamlet first determines Claudiuss guilt, then seeks to destroy him. Claudius fears for his life, and plots to kill Hamlet. At the end of the play, Hamlet is cut with a poisoned sword and dies, but not before exacting revenge on Claudius for his fathers murder.
Prince Hamlet in Hamlet is also a tragic character due to his need to secure his personal dignity. Hamlet, throughout the play, strives to avenge his fathers death. His father, King Hamlet, was murdered by Hamlets uncle, Claudius, in order to secure the throne for Claudius. Because his fathers ghost ordered him to, Hamlet seeks revenge on his uncle. Hamlet is devoted to seeking revenge for his father, but is thoughtful to the point where Hamlet waits until the perfect time. For example, Hamlet decides to exact his revenge on Claudius after Hamlet put on a play that reenacted Claudiuss crime.
Claudius jumped up and left the theater, and Hamlet took this as a sign of guilt. Hamlet was going to murder Claudius then, until Hamlet saw that Claudius was praying. Hamlet then decided that then was not the right time (Shakespeare 3. 2, 3. 3). As if Hamlets mission was not already personal, Claudius, fearing for his life at the hands of Hamlet, decides to murder Hamlet. This is when Hamlet shows no mercy. His personal dignity was at stake, therefore he exacted his revenge, murdering Claudius (Shakespeare 5. 2). Hamlet could not have died without avenging his fathers death, it would have been disgraceful.
He willed himself to stay alive after being cut with a poisoned sword to murder his uncle. Both Willy Loman and Hamlet were slaves to their personal dignity, and both of their stories ended in tragedy. Arthur Millers quote that the common man can be as much of a subject for tragedy as king were is correct in the instances of Willy Loman and Hamlet. Willy Loman suffered because he wanted to believe himself to be a man with a happy family and a successful career, while Hamlet suffered because of the revenge he sought due to the murder of his father. These two instances proves that anyone, common man or king, can be the subject of tragedy.