Death of a Salesman was written in 1949 by Arthur Miller. In this famous American story, Miller depicts many scenarios within the Loman family regarding happiness, while others do not achieve it. He depicts this family as very dysfunctional, yet they all want nothing but the best for each other; success and happiness. Happiness is a state of contempt and well-being; physically and mentally. It is a feeling of peace within yourself. Being happy is vital in any person’s life. Every human strives for happiness in their lives, even if it means that they must face and conquer challenges every so often. Willy, Biff, Happy, and Linda Loman all struggle with being truly contempt with their selves throughout the story. Willy Loman is a sixty-three-year-old salesman who cannot accept the truth. He constantly contradicts himself, which makes it very hard for him to be happy. He is an unstable man who is very insecure but uses his arrogance to try and cover his flaws such as his anxiety. He has two main goals in life; to accumulate fancy materialistic items through his financial successes and to be liked in life. In the Death of a Salesman story, Willy believes that he is a respected and successful business man who has a positive influence on his sons’ lives. None of that is true. Biff knows his truth, and Happy is a truly successful businessman. Willy has a mental illness that causes him to have random and quick mood swings after he hallucinates. The hallucinations that Willy has are because he is searching for that happiness. Willy tries his hardest to hide his troubles and his anxiety by using defense mechanisms. Willy does not make enough money, nor is he liked let alone respected. Willy feels that he is a failure, and that is why he pushes his son Biff so hard. Unlike Willy, Biff Loman knows his truth. He can see his failures. He does not sit around and dream about something that he knows he is not able to achieve. Biff works with what is in front of him. Willy and Biff have the most poisonous relationship in this story. Willy told Biff through his childhood and early adulthood that if he has the looks and is well liked, and he can sweet talk his way regardless of the mechanisms used, such as lies, to get his way to achieve the success then he will be all set. Biff is Willy’s golden boy because he wants Biff to succeed, but he does not really care for Happy’s happiness. Oh, the irony that Happy’s name is Happy. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Happy is another Willy, but Happy is more successful than Willy. Happy has achieved the American dream; he has a good job and he is successful at his job. Even though he is financially set he struggles with realistic dreams such as getting rich quick when he knows that is not realistically possible. Happy knows he is better than Biff. Happy knows that he makes Willy proud, yet Willy pays more attention to Biff. If Willy could choose between Biff or Happy, he would always choose Biff. Even though Happy has accomplished so much financially in his business, he still feels lonely and most certainly unhappy. The Death of a Salesman teaches us many lessons. Willy is not one to live by.
The character Willy Loman is a shipping clerk who sells his company’s products in different cities in the United States. However, author Arthur Miller did not disclose the specific products that Willie sold, perhaps because his role represented everyone in this situation to ensure that more viewers contacted and recognized the role. Willie is involved in a customer-based sales approach.
He described this type of sales throughout the script, and he described the power of sales as pretending to sell until you achieved the desired results, looking good, fascinating people and jokes so people would like you. On many occasions, Willy described his experience in sales travel.
For example, he told his wife that the trip was bad because people thought he was not flattering. What’s more, when he finally faced the truth of his failure, it ended. He found that people buy people. If one person is not true, people will not buy you. This makes him realize that his work skills are poor and he lacks comprehensive success.
Author Arthur performed in New York in the 1940s, and Willy Loman’s family lived in Brooklyn. New York at the time was before industrialization and adopted changes such as apartment construction. The play also describes different flashbacks, such as Willie’s encounter with Biff in Boston, his timeline is unknown. The culture in the background of the drama of the 1940s shows the consistency of American society’s group norms for realizing the dream of American life that is richer, better, and richer. In the process of realizing this vision, most people give up social values such as honesty, integrity, and loyalty, but blindly believe in society driven by materialistic nature.
Willie’s approach to customers includes fostering materialism by meeting customers, applying personal charisma, understanding customers, engaging their language, interests, and sales needs. Sales strategies are not largely dependent on education, but on customers. In order to succeed, salesmen like Willy are selling all over the country, can afford all the household appliances they need, and become rich. In addition, the background of the play is a business climate characterized by a golden age of economic growth after World War II. As war bonds mature, productivity increases, capital expands, and well-educated working-class people make the business environment favorable. Therefore, more citizens have the right to bear the various necessities in life, which makes sales an ideal cause
In my opinion, Willie decided to work in sales because he thought it was easy to do, and it allowed him to realize the American dream of wealth and success. In addition to his own American dream, he had more of his own children. Willy believes that personality, not hard work and innovation, is the key to success. Time and again, he wants to make sure his boys are well-liked and popular. For example, when his son Biff confesses to making fun of his math teacherr’s lisp, Willy is more concerned with how Biffr’s classmates react: BIFF: I Crossed my eyes and talked with a lithp. WILLY: (Laughing.) You did? The kids like it? BIFF: They nearly died laughing! Throughout the script, Willie portrays his idea of success as believing that education, hard work, and innovation are not as important as being charismatic, looking good, and being flattering. Willie sees the world as popular and popular with people’s preferences. This concept runs through his entire career, and he believes that it will make him loved, trustworthy, and attract customers. At the same time, his beliefs, wealth and wealth are important goals in life, making sales an ideal career pursuit.
Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. Arthur Miller alludes to the American Dream in Death of a Salesmen, which has the effect of capitalism and consumerism, through the depiction of two protagonists: Willy and Biff Loman and moves to further criticize these ideas by showing the tragic end of Willy Loman. Capitalism, consumerism, and the American Dream are interlinked ideas and when each of the latter idea occurs, the former happens.
To have success, capitalism and consumerism are planned and implemented by the help of politicians and the media. Miller is acknowledging to the Americans that they are in an illusion and that the dream is fake resulting in various social problems and even in death like with Willy. In 1949 Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman, in which the American Dream is depicted as a fruitless pursuit.
The basis of Arthur Millerr’s play is a disastrous life of a man as Miller himself stated a man who doesnt have any control and authority over his life. The main issue is that how can the life of a human be determined by capitalist society continue their way of life under this condition? And being old and all the problems along with oldness is a mere pretext to tolerate life in a society ruled by the upper classes.
Willy Loman is a salesman who believes that success comes from being well liked and popular and has tried desperately to instill his ideas to his two boys: Happy and Biff, Willyr’s biggest aspirations in life. His wife Linda is extremely supportive and is Willyr’s only connection to reality. While raising his boys and trying to instill his American Dream, he fails to teach them any sense of morality, leading them down what he feels is the wrong path. At one point, he defends Biff for stealing just because he was an amazing football player. Loaded with it. Loaded! What is he stealing? Her’s giving it back, isnt he? Why is he stealing? What did I tell him? I never in my life told him anything but decent things. Willyr’s goal throughout life was to achieve financial success. As a salesman, Willy was a failure and he tried desperately to prevent his sons to never end up like him. As a result, he loses his grasp on reality. Throughout the story, Willy often has flashbacks of the conversations that he and his brother Ben once had. These flashbacks illustrate Willyr’s loss of reality from the world. As Willy and Charley are playing a game of cards, Willy has a flashback of him and Ben and Charley became completely confused, believing that Willy is speaking to him. As a character, Ben represents the opportunity that Willy did not take and all the fortune that he missed.
Willy Loman embodies the average worker, who worked his whole life for the same company and who then gets fired, when the company no longer has any use for him. Howard Wagner, the head of the company, who is much younger than Willy doesnt care about his past at all and shows no empathy for him. With this scene, Miller shows us how the average man is exploited by the system and thrown away in the end. With this the author tries to show to the reader, what salesmanship is all about: profit. He also shows how heartless and inhumane this business can be and how blind one someone must be in order not to get this. The exploitation of the average man and his depression is made even clearer in the end of the play, where Willy Loman commits suicide to provide his family with the insurance money from his death.
Willy Loman always dreams of getting rich through the system and continues having this dream, unfortunately he completely forgets about what happens with the people who dont succeed in fulfilling their capitalistic dreams. He thinks that you can achieve whatever you want in the American system if you are diligent and hardworking, but if we analyze the successful characters more closely we find out that there was more luck than hard work involved in their success. Howard was born into and raised to one day run the company and it was only by luck that Ben found diamonds in the African jungle. The only character who has success due to hard work and diligence is Bernard, who becomes a lawyer. All the other people either have luck or fall for the great promises that are made by the system and the people who it made successful.
The struggle of Willy Loman becomes crystal clear when Linda Loman, wife of Willy and mother of Biff and Happy, explains why Willy must be honored. According to Linda, Dont say her’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. Her’s not the finest character that ever lived. But her’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So, attention must be paid. Her’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person. Through these words, the dark face of capitalism comes to us, though some western critics believe that Willy Loman is stupid and a hypocrite. Whereas we see Wagner Company has destroyed his talent, threw him away from job without notice, has shown a class conflict between the owner and Willy Loman, and has also sent him in an uncertain life.
Willy believes that to be well liked is the means to being successful. This is an illusion that Willy lives in. He often lapses into a flashback and appears to be reliving conversations and situations that occurred years ago. This itself is an inability to see reality. This reality versus illusion eventually brings about Willy’s downfall. In the end, Willy believes that a man can be “worth more dead than alive.” Charley, always the voice of reality tells Willy, “A man isn’t worth anything dead.” Willy is also unable to see change. He is man lost in the modern era of technology. He says, “How can they whip cheese?” and is constantly “In a race with the junkyard.” Willy has lost at trying to live the American Dream and the play can be viewed as commentary about society. Willy was a man who was worked all his life by the machinery of Democracy and Free Enterprise and was then spit mercilessly out, spent like a “piece of fruit.” As Happy says in Requiem: Im gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. Itr’s the only dream you can have”to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where Im gonna win for him.
In the end, this piece is a critique of the American system. One major part of the whole piece is to show what happens with most people who try to make it in the capitalist economy, and that this system is not only good, but has two sides. Arthur Miller wanted to point out, that in the capitalistic society the definition and meaning of success is often misunderstood.
Without a doubt, the plays that were analyzed and deliberated this semester were informative, interesting, and crucial to the present condition and culture of mainstream playwriting. Of the many works that were looked at, Oedipus Rex and Death of a Salesman were two that lent themselves to further evaluation. Within this text, I will be discussing specific examples from both productions that draws comparison between the two.
Disconnected by several thousand years of literature, Oedipus Rex and Death of a Salesman seem to share a number of likenesses and characteristics that tie them both together, despite having been written at completely different times in history. At first look, one may ask how these stories could have anything in common; one is about a salesman with suicidal predispositions and the other a king who murdered his father and established a sexual relationship with his mother (book). However, after further consideration, there are underlying themes and foundations that show how each protagonist struggles with internal conflict which eventually leads to their untimely demise; each play shares a protagonist with a tragic flaw.
In the Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex is the main character (book). He is important and of noble birth, and reigns as the King of Thebes. However, due to his kingly status, there are events that have occurred in his life that have affected his well-being as well as that of the people of Thebes. King Oedipus fate, unbeknownst to him, has already been determined by the Gods before he was born (book). In Arthur Millerr’s classic, Willy Loman is an older gentleman that struggles to accept his fate in a dead-end job and old age. Willy was let go from his job as a salesman and has started to spiral out of control, disappointed with the way his life is turning out (book). Willyr’s tragic situation, unlike Oedipus, does not at all impact the country, people, or even city where he lives. The individuals that are immediately affected by Willyr’s death are his immediate family members (book). Within the character similarities, there is one major difference. In a Greek tragedy, such as that of Oedipus Rex, the main character is almost always of noble or royal birth. Therefore, the country over while they rule is directly affected and at risk of peril due to the tragic situation of the protagonist. In the modern tragedy, such as Death of a Salesman, the main character is the average individual, with only few impacted by the death or tragedy of the protagonist.
Another similarity that can be drawn from each play, is the mental and physical state in which each main character begins and ends their respective plays. In the very opening scene of Oedipus Rex, we see a confused Oedipus at what he sees is happening to the City of Thebes (book). He does not understand why Thebes is in turmoil and this worries Oedipus. Although we as an audience know that Thebes is ultimately in distress due to his fate, Oedipus does not. At the end, we see a now-blind Oedipus overcome with anguish and embarrassment as he realizes now what he has done (book).
Comparable to Oedipus introduction, Willy Loman enters confused as well. Willy starts telling his wife, Linda, how all of a sudden he couldnt drive any more (book), and this was worrying him. As mentioned above, Willyr’s complications and strife do not directly affect a nation, but his immediate family instead. Closely to Oedipus, Willyr’s story also ends in shame; Willy kills himself so that his wife and sons will receive his insurance policy (book).
Death of a Salesman Literary Analysis
What would someone expect to be the outcome of a man who has given his passionate worship to the goddess of success sold out in the American promise of equality of opportunity for anyone to achieve the highest possible financial and material comfort? Such is the man, an aging father clinging on to the assurance of the reward of customer charming, who Arthur Miller depicts in his play, Death of a Salesman. A look into the character of Willy Loman reveals a disenchanted dreamer with an illusion, routinely vexed by his non-fulfilment, and once when confronted with the utter bankruptcy of his aspirations, cannot stand himself anymore..
While the American Dream lays its groundwork of success on hard work, Willy tailored his version of the dream based on observation of his brother’s success. Ben had left for Alaska, a wilderness in Africa where he lucked into a lot of wealth by discovering a diamond mine. Willy concluded that to be successful, a man needed to be charismatic and that a well-liked and personally attractive person is the sole guarantee of business success, a notion that set him up for failure. His dream, to become a great man, profoundly admired and revered by others, is one he holds throughout his life, and choosing the work of a salesman as a means to achieve it, he devotedly focuses on charming his way to success despite the fact that there are other role models in society who have realistically achieved their financial success through hard work.
Charley is Willy’s next door neighbor who runs a successful business with his son Bernard, himself a successful attorney. Even though Willy admirers his success, he is jealous and dismisses him that “he’s liked, but he’s not well liked.” Willy’s sons’ admiration of Bernard who is headed to the Supreme Court to argue a case is another of Willy’s objects of frustration.
Failing to recognize that charm alone without the knowledge and hard work would not guarantee success, Willy holds on tightly to his job despite working solely on commission, and so strong is his delusion that when he is fired from the job, he turns down a job offer just to retain his pride. Striving to cope with his frustrations, he finds opportunity in his son Biff to further his ambition for success by having him fulfill the dream on his behalf, a move that draws his other son Happy into the ordeal in his quest to attain his father’s attention and approval. A football star in high school with a scholarship to play football in college, Biff greatly appealed to his father’s distorted perception that being liked is the qualification for success, so much that he failed to emphasize the importance of education to his sons, consequently causing Biff to flunk a semester of math without the credits which he wouldn’t make it to college.
Overlooking Biff’s enlightenment, he imposes his inflated ambitions on his sons, aspirations Biff does not wish to pursue and one that Happy only tries to embody just to receive the acknowledgment of his father, who sees no potential in him. In spite of Biff having talent in his athleticism, he finds himself discouraged due to feelings that he is disappointing his father and letting down his expectations. Further increasing the dysfunction in the family, Happy in his bid to attain his father’s favor ends up becoming like his father. He assimilates the faulty perspective of his father concerning the world and success, placing value on wealth and popularity over integrity, dignity, and education, and eventually, he ends up truly unhappy.
Linda is Willy’s loving and devoted wife who is more realistic and sees through her husband’s deluded dreams and failures enduringly. Her standing by him throughout the play wins the admiration of his sons who at one time confess to not being able to find a marriageable woman like their mother. This emphasizes the betrayal Biff feels when he catches his father cheating on his mother with another woman. He decides not to attend summer school to secure his math credits which would have enabled him to go to college. He flees from his father, moving to the west where he is not able to keep his jobs at farms as he had developed a tendency to steal.
Frustrations mount in Willy’s family who enters into suicidal attempts. He inhales gas and purposely gets himself into car accidents. Biff’s return from the West, though striking a reconciliatory note with his father, exposes the deteriorating flawed character of his father. His short-temper leads any conversation into altercation leaving no model example for his sons, and when he eventually learns that Biff still loves him, he makes the final step of taking his life so that Biff can receive the life insurance money and invest in his future.
Arthur Miller’s portrayal of the struggle Willy goes through in his acceptance of the falsehood of his distorted version of the American dream, and his failure to realize Biff’s disinterest in it shows not only the flaws in material wealth illusion but also the important notion that individuals measure success differently. Where one individual finds contentment in career development, the other measure success in wealth and respect. Material wealth is not guaranteed to happiness, and hot pursuit of financial success can lead to destruction.
- 1 Death of a Salesman: Play Report
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Death of a Salesman: Play Report
Death of a Salesman is a popular play that grapples with the idea of the American Dream by the famous author, Arthur Miller. The play is about Willy Loman and the events that lead to him killing himself. It has received many awards and is still very popular to this day.
He was born on October 17, 1915 in New York during the Great Depression. The Great Depression was a worldwide economic depression that effected millions of people. His father struggled to earn money during the Great Depression, which he believes shaped him as a person. It showed him the insecurity of modern existence, (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica) at a young age which affected his entire life. He was married to the also famous, Marilyn Monroe, for five years and even wrote a play titled, The Misfits, in her name. Death of a Salesman was his second play written, after his Tony Award winning film titled Focus. He had been coming up with ideas for Death of a Salesman since he was a teenager, initially being about a Jewish Salesman. Other popular works of his includes The Crucible, After the Fall, and The Price. He sadly passed away on February 10, 2005, but his legacy lives on as a beloved playwriter.
The play takes place in New York in a small home surrounded by apartments in every direction. It takes place in the 1900s, and money is hard to find with the population growing in their town. I believe the overshadowing of their home by the apartments surrounding them symbolized and foreshadowed major facts in the story. Willyr’s yearnings to live the American dream overshadowed the importance of his family like apartments overshadowing his home. When Willyr’s home slowly breaks from the weight of the apartments, it resembles his slow death leading to his death. The apartments are crowding his home or safe place, like how his dreams consume or crowd his thoughts and prevents him from working to accept things as they are. His home represents many aspects of Death of a Salesman and is great foreshadowing by the author. The set of the play is a small quaint home with a very minimal amount of furniture. On the first floor is the kitchen with the necessities, and behind there is a small living room accompanied with a bedroom to the right. The boyr’s bedroom is on the second floor and is not well lit. A portion of the stage represents their backyard next to the home and many scenes take place here. The storyr’s setting plays a big role in the development of the story.
The plays exposition starts with a traveling salesman named Willy Loman returning home from a business trip to his loving wife, Linda. He comes home to his two sons, Biff and Happy, visiting the family and their arrival becomes the initial incident of the story. The rising action begins when Willy is not happy and frustrated with Biff for not having a job at his age, although Linda tells him not to be too critical. Biff never graduated college which is one of the additional reasons his father is so frustrated. After Willy eats a snack, he starts to hallucinate about past experiences with his two sons. In his daydream, he reminisces about spending time with his sons while they were in high school and chatting with his wife. His daydream ends and soon after Willy is offered a job by his rich brother, Ben. Willy refuses the offer and begins to hallucinate about how his sons stole lumber a while back. His hallucination is over quickly, but his family begins to worry, and they discuss his condition.
Willy becomes joyous to hear that his sons wish to go into business together, and Biff decides to go ask Bill Oliver whom is an old employer of Biffs for a loan to achieve their ambitions. Linda tells her sons about how she has found a pipe that showed Willy has tried to commit suicide, so she tells them to be nice to him at dinner. The next day, Willy goes to talk to his employer about staying local for business and no longer travelling, but his wish is declined, and he is fired. Willy has another hallucination, this time about Biffr’s football game and he wishes his team to win. As Biff arrives to meet Bill, he realizes the man has no recognition of him, so he steals his fountain pen out of spite. All the boys meet up for dinner that night and ends up in a huge fight which ends up being the climax of the story. Willy reminisces his time with a woman that he was cheating on his wife with, and the stunned expressions on Biffr’s face as he walked in on them together. After returning home, the boys apologize and Willy becomes once again angry with Biff, which causes him to sob in distress. Once the entire fight is over, everyone goes to bed, but Willy decides to go and commit suicide by driving off a cliff. The resolution of the story includes his funeral in which no one attended, and Linda repeating Were free, to her husbandr’s grave.
Willy Loman is the husband to Linda Loman and is the main character in this play. He is described to be stubborn, suicidal, short tempered, and in his opinion; well-liked by his peers. His character is completely infatuated with the idea of the American Dream for his family, this idea tends to stand in they way of his true happiness. This standard was a huge obstacle in his life that made it hard for him to accept his family for who they are. Willy tried to be more accepting of his sons, but sadly these tactics did not work. He ended up reverting to his old judgmental ways of life, instead of being accepting. His life ended by committing suicide and left many loose ends in the story. Even until his death, everything he did was for the American Dream in his life. This includes sacrificing himself to pass his inheritance on to his family, so they can be free. Willy was a static character because he cannot let go of the American Dream that his hindered him for so long. He was able to resist change by sticking to his stubborn ways and not letting go of what he wants. Willy ended up going off the deep end, and it was his anger that led him to suicide.
Biff Loman represented so many ideas in Death of a Salesman and stood out from the rest of his family. He is in his mid-thirties and still does not seem to have a stable job. He wanted to find himself and pursue a profession that he loves, unlike Willy and Happy who settled for money. His first job was working on a farm, but he was not content in that job position. Biff is constantly developing in this story because he always wanted to grow as a person and was open to new thoughts and ideas. An example of this, is he has a new goal to go into business with his younger brother. A huge obstacle in his life is his viewing of his fathers failures, specifically Willy cheating on his wife in front of his own eyes. He was the only character to know of his fatherr’s cheating, and he disapproved immediately. This causes Biff to seem trapped in a web of lies his father strung; and consequently, leaves him vulnerable in the story. His main tactic to overcome this problem was following his instincts, which told him to get away from his father and live his own life. Biff was a dynamic character in the story because he changes from an insecure boy living under his fatherr’s shadow to a man who realizes the importance of taking care of himself.
Happy Loman is also one of the main characters in the story and was important to the plays development. Happy is the youngest son of the Loman family and is in his mid-thirties. He is a successful young man and has many dreams, and who is similar to his father in many ways. His dreams tend to be unrealistic, like his fatherr’s unrealistic want to live the American dream. He also is in a career not for enjoyment but for the money itself. Another way he is like his father is because he also is a people pleaser, and this is shown at the restaurant with the female staff. Since he is similar to his father, I think it is very likely he is also lonely inside but has learned to hide it. He is always being looked down on and never praised for being who he is. An obstacle in Happyr’s life is like Biffs; trying to live up to his fathers standards. Happy tries to meet this standard by accepting his fathers wants and following them; without seeming to stand up for himself in the story. He does not overcome his obstacle out of fear of rejection from his father. Happy is a static character because he never developed into a new man. He was fixated on being who his family wanted him to be, and not being himself.
As discussed, many times in this paper, the American Dream is a major theme in this story. It is shown multiple times in the story in many ways. This is showed when Willy does anything to be liked, even if it means living a lie. Willy always paraded the idea of having so many friends, but no one cared to come to his funeral. Another way he portrayed the want for living the American Dream is how Willy wants an ideal family that is perfect. A quote that supports this is, In the greatest country in the world a young man with such”personal attractiveness, gets lost, (Miller 8) which shows his judgment of his kids based on our countryr’s success. Arthur Miller gives the basic question, Is striving for the American Dream worth it when you loose everything? I believe the author believed the author did not think it was worth it, and that is why he killed off the main character to portray his opinion. A very interesting part of the play is that Arthur never told the audience what Willy sold as a travelling salesman. He left this unsaid to leave readers in suspense, and to have us ask ourselves what we believed he sold. Personally, I think Willy sold his personality for popularity because he thought it led to success, when he was broken inside. A quote supporting this is, Her’s liked, but her’s not well liked, (Miller 21) which refers to Bernard when Willy asked if he was well liked. This basically is saying Bernard is not successful because the family relates popularity with other to success in life.
Overall, this was not my favorite play I have read for many reasons. The first reason is I initially found it very confusing and I had to review the story before I was able to write my paper. Another reason is that it is not a happy story, and it does not help when you know someone will die at the end of the story. I also did not like Willy because he could not get over the idea of the American Dream because it seemed to prolong the story without having many happy moments. Although I did not enjoy the story overall, I did enjoy certain parts of it. One part I enjoyed was Biffr’s character development even though he has had some troubles in life. My favorite part of the story was the foreshadowing with the setting of the play, including the house and apartments. The way that Arthur was able to foreshadow so many aspects of the play in a subtle way was very clever of him. I also enjoyed seeing Linda being so committed to her and Willyr’s relationship, even though he did not deserve it. Willy did everything wrong as a father and husband, and yet his wife stays with him through it all. The play had many interesting scenes and although I did not enjoy all of it, I am glad I got to read it.
- Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. Arthur Miller. Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 13 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Arthur- Miller-American-playwright.
- Death of a Salesman. SparkNotes, SparkNotes, 2018, www.sparknotes.com/lit/salesman/.
Shmoop Editorial Team. Death of a Salesman. Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/death-of-a-salesman/.
Death of a Salesman
In earlier years the American dream is what everyone lived for. So many get rich schemes to come out on top was the plan. Like the music industry with Joe Jackson, his American dream was his kids and the music industry.
He fought so hard and worked even harder for his children to come out on top. It worked and now his last name is the biggest household name when it comes to music. Although in Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, he conveys a message about trying to secure the American dream through Willy Loman using his family as a pawn in his plans, and also losing his sanity while doing so, which eventually led to Willyr’s demise.
Arthur Miller attended the University of Michigan, where he began writing plays as a young freshman and also studied Greek literature and earned a bachelorr’s degree in English in 1938 (‘Built Like Adonises’). His many works of fiction during a career that lasted almost seventy years novels, plays, and short stories are justly revered for their ironic and multilayered meanings (‘Built Like Adonises’) . Miller gives him some knowledge of western literature and a few of its primal stories and themes (‘Built Like Adonises’).
In Death of a Salesman Willy Loman goes throughout the play zoning in and out of reality and the real world. He is having the fight of his life because he wants to live the American Dream, but it is truly breaking his family apart. His two sons Biff and Happy, and also his wife is up for an intense ride. More importantly Biff is getting the most problems from his father, because he was supposed to be the meal ticket for the family. Willy thought of as many get rich schemes as he can because he wanted to be rich like his brother. Biff is the only one that had something going for his self. In one of the flashbacks you can see Biff in his prime as the high school football star. In this particular flashback, Biff is seen throwing the ball around with his father and brother. The neighbor comes out to let Biff know, that he needs to study because he is on the brink of failing math. Biff would not listen and continued to play out in the yard. Biff not only was failing classes, he also was stealing (Miller, Arthur).
Eventually Willy goes on a trip to sale as usual, but he ends up in his hotel room with his mistress. Biff ended up coming to meet his father, so they could meet with the teacher about Biffr’s failing grades. After short conversation Biff finds out that there is another woman there because she reveals herself. Willy kicks the mistress out of the hotel room and gives her two pairs of stockings that is supposed to be for his wife. The son is so hurt by the actions of his dad, that they get into a big fight in the middle of the room, and then Biff storms off. His football career is ruined, because he fails the class (Miller, Arthur). This little encounter puts a strain on the father son duo, because of how Willy continues to mistreat his wife even after being caught in the act. He is trying so hard to be something he is not, by living a double life wasting money on women instead of providing for his family. The family is already behind on bills, and Willy isnt really making any sales.
Later on in the story though, Willy tries to use Biff again to make money since he is having trouble. Willy gets so down that it shows his previous attempts at trying to take his own life. His wife is hurt because no matter how hard she tries to cater to Willy and make him happy things just get worse and worse. Linda tries to be a peacemaker for all of the boys, but she just cant seem to get them to get along which is slowly tearing the family apart. Happy does not really seem to care for Willy because Biff is the favorite child, and that alone causes more rift in the Loman family.
Life in the 1940r’s was not as we see times of today. It was not until the later 40r’s when things were popping again. Door-to-door salespeople has to contend with the up and coming world of great technology. People had all kind of big dreams for themselves and their families. Some were brought to fruition and some died before being seen to the end. Door to door salesman were usually the head of their households and their income was the only one they had, so the name of their game was to hustle to out sale the other salesmen with their charisma. Willy put himself on a very high pedestal and that pedestal did come crumbling down.
However, Willy was failing as a great salesman and Mr. Miller had Willy living in a cloud that was really unsuccessful. Knowing Willy was the breadwinner of his household mad Miller look bad(Miller, Arthur). Willy has a very understanding and patient wife which in these days has shenanigans would not be tolerated by wives of today. Throughout the entire play he would go back and forth in time and it leaves a lot to your thought process. It takes a lot to make a dream come true and with Willyr’s thought process it makes it even harder to accomplish the dreams he had set forth for his boys, Biff and Happy. Selling merchandise these days has fierce competition compared to the 1940r’s and 1950r’s. They kind of remind me of Edith and Archie Bunker and their meager way of living. Willy recalled the death of a real salesman as he called it when an 84-year-old salesman/colleague could pick up a phone and make a call and get sales in 31 states while wearing his greenhouse slippers and thatr’s the way he died in his green velvet slippers probably making a call to one of his clients (Miller, Arthur). Willy wanted his sons to be successful in whatever they did but he was never satisfied with the careers that they had chosen and always complained about it. He never complimented them on anything. He also complained about how his wife Linda did everything. I guess Willy was the kind of man that wanted everything to be perfect and his familyr’s life was far from perfect.
At the end of the story, Biff Loman he former all-star quarterback and all-around golden boy of his senior class, announces much the same intentions (All I want is Out There). After the death of his father, Biff will say goodbye once and for all to the crowded, noisy city that he never loved, never wanted to live in or work in as a grown man (All I want is Out There). He tried for years to escape the urban East and all that it represents to him, but he could not because of his fatherr’s dreams (All I want is out). In the end, Biff will go back to Texas, this time for good, and once he is out there amid the horses, the cattle, the freedom, and the big skies, he will finally live out the kind of life” a physically demanding one” that he has desired ever since he left his Brooklyn high school all those years before (Miller, Arthur).
This story is based on the Death of a Salesman as the name suggests. Upon reading this I judged the story based on the title alone and I was correct. I did not know how or what lead to the death of the salesman or his or her name.
As I read the story, I made a surface conclusion it was a story about the pathetic and sad life of Willy Loman, who happens to be a salesman. Upon reading this further, I could get a clearer picture of what this story is about and was able to further analyze if it fits a tragic protagonist plot or not and find out who the story is all focused on.
In this play, Willy Loman is a good example of a tragic protagonist by Aristotle’s definition. As we know, Aristotle defines Tragedy as “the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself.” He also states that “Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. This fits the description of Willy by the author. He went from a man who was perfectly healthy mentally and having secured a job as a salesman to a jobless father, uncaring, depressed and having mental instability leading to suicide. This whole journey sparks pity and fear in my mind as a reader. We have been discussing characteristics that make a play and character a tragic protagonist hero. Based on what I have learned from the discussions, this play fits the typical tragic ending, because, by reading the story and fully understanding it. The tragedy was brought on by the protagonist of this play Willy Loman.
As always, the play start off by depicting the protagonist in a good light and having all the good things like jobs, and a family but as we read further, he moved into a bad light of a jobless, cheating and uncaring man. In the end, all this ended up in death. He died all alone, with no loved ones beside him. This is pitiful and sad. It brings up the fears of not wanting to die alone like Willy. Death of a Salesman does not have a typical tragic ending. In this scenario, the way they treated him at his burial was not typical. One would think after having to sacrifice his life for his son Biff, so biff can have a more secure future, one would think this would change the image of Willy in biffs mind and made him into a more caring and loving father that sacrificed his life for his son but this was not the case.
Instead, at Willy’s burial, he was alone, no one to pay homage to him, he died as a depressed, lonely, neglected, sad, pathetic man, whose son held a grudge against him. The protagonist of the story Death of a Salesman is Willy Loman because the play is focused on him, A salesman of the Wagner Company, who is always on the road, a low-class man who believes in a Success Dream of having to work hard and attain success but soon finds out that it takes more than hard work to be a successful salesman. The story focuses on Willy life, from his journey as a salesman to his death.
Last, Willy Loman can be seen as a tragic hero. He cared about his family, financial stability and having a good name. He wanted his son to have a stable future, and the decisions he made for him and other decisions were a flaw that led to his downfall. So far, I enjoy reading this play and watching it. It illustrated how a perfect life can turn sour because of the decisions made. In my opinion, watching the play was more interesting, it kept my attention. Seeing the play live on a stage was fun and enjoyable, there was much emphasis on the dressing, characters, and settings.
In the play, we can see that the setting fit a classic setting, from the dress to the way the actors and actresses portray each characters. I love the ways the writer Arthur Miller wrote this story, it sets a good foundation for a play or movie. Id recommend anyone to read the story before watching it to understand the plot and the protagonist. Link to the play is down below.
Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller, was a play written in the early 1900’s. The play focuses on Willy Loman, a loving husband and father who cannot seem to catch his big break and is frustrated with the way his life ended up. He wants to pursue the American Dream but is having a hard time making his mark on the world.
Willy is focused on being well liked in attempt to become a successful salesman. It is this mentality that he attempts to instill in his two sons Happy and Biff who are unsuccessful in their careers as well. A successful life is not solely based upon financial gain, how people are liked in the public, but it’s based upon a whole complete life that is filled with many experiences. The purpose of this paper is to examine what motivates Willy Loman to do what he does as it pertains to willingness to become a successful salesman. The paper will analyze the analytical purpose of the character which gives the audience new insight on the play.
Loman is motivated to do what he does because he is in the pursuit of finding the American Dream. He is working tirelessly for a company that could care less about his wellbeing and the countless hours he puts in from driving around the country. If old man Wagner was alive Id a been in charge of New York now! That man was a prince, he was a masterful man. But that boy of his, that Howard, he dont appreciate (Miller, 6-7). He is motivated to keep on working even if that means killing himself. Willy Loman expects this same work ethic out of his sons especially Biff. Biff is the main reason Willy Loman lashes out the way he does and takes out most of his anger and frustration on his wife Linda. Linda is the peacemaker of the family, but it is becoming obvious that this role is becoming too much to handle.
His pursuit for greatness will soon be his ultimate demise. Instead of rolling over and dying Loman fakes his happiness for the sake of his wife for the pursuit of becoming the successful salesman he has always dreamt of being. It is when he is at lowest point that he realizes that he must keeping pushing before it is too late. Unknowingly to those around him (Loman) puts out the facade that he has it all together and his dreams are just around the corner. He is no longer motivated but a defeated man who refuses to give up on what he thinks a successful man should be. The unspooling protagonist who, after decades of hard work, realizes (and is destroyed by the realization) that he has built his life on sand; how much strain and disappointment (Harvey,3).
Loman was so busy chasing being a successful man that he forgot how to live. Everything was about work and why his sons did not have the same outlook as he did on life. Willy did not understand the definition of a successful person. In life you will encounter those who are deemed successful because they have money but, they are not successfully they are wealthy. Success comes from within. Success comes as the by-product of a life lived from the inside out. The key to living a successful life is grasping the awareness that you are enough. Once you understand you are enough, you create the space within your consciousness that allows you to realign harmoniously with your essential self or highest good (Herriott, 4). Success is having a loving and nurturing family, a roof over your head and food in your mouth. Success cannot always be measure by finances or by the number of people who like you. Money and fame are here one day and gone the next. It is all about the journey we take to become successful. Taking shortcuts may be good in the beginning but detrimental in the end. Anything worth having is worth waiting for.
Willy’s issue was his stubbornness and his will to become successful. He failed to realize that his way of living and thinking is not the way of the world especially as it pertains to family. He expected too much from his sons and when they failed it only further angered him because of the potential he assumed they possessed. Individuals from individualistic cultures may put greater emphasis on their unique traits and personal attributes (King & Chi, 1). This is the main reason why he continued to work and not realizing that there was more to life than work. How can one expect others to want more in life when they do not realize their own self-worth?
It is because of Willy’s narrow mindedness that he failed not only himself but his family. First, he failed his wife in so much as he was not receptive to her feelings on how she trying to manage relationship between he and his children. He failed his children by not being receptive to what their personal needs and goals were. And lastly, he failed himself and that he did not realize that it was time to take a different journey. He did not listen to that inner voice that we all have, that changing a goal does not delineate failure. Changing a course because your passion and abilities dont match does not mean you are not a successful person.
When this occurs, we must reevaluate what we want for ourselves and what we want for our family. Evaluating personal objectives and trying to reinvent ourselves that reflect our beliefs and ability that create a more accurate reflection of who we are. Unfortunately for Willy he did not have the endurance or sound mind to understand that practical changes were necessary to sustain his life. As a part of his demise and the hallucinations that he experienced reality was far from his reach and unfortunate self-destruction was his undoing. As a result of his death he left his family and they were unable to see his full potential.
- Du, Hongfei, et al. Self-Esteem and Subjective Well-Being Revisited: The Roles of Personal, Relational, and Collective Self-Esteem. Plos One, vol. 12, no. 8, 2017, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0183958.
- Harvey, Giles. ?Death of a Salesman: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Mediocrity. The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 14 May 2012, www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/death-of-a-salesman-a-heartbreaking-work-of-staggering-mediocrity.
- Herriott, Jessie. The True Meaning of Success. Unity, 10 Nov. 2014, www.unity.org/resources/articles/true-meaning-success.
- Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. 1948.
In the play, Death of a salesman, Arthur Miller shows that hard work does not always pay off in the working world. Set just after World War II, Willy Loman is working on the road to be able to provide for his family. Working long hours makes him go crazy and he struggles to realize how he really feels.
When reading the play, one will begin to see a constant theme of struggling with acceptance and a tone of sympathy throughout. This becomes noticeable when all the main characters struggle to accept certain things in some way and tend to look back on how things use to be.
In the play, Willy Loman is the main character that struggles to accept his personal conflict the most which is realizing he will not become the man he wants to be. He is seen reaching high and low points depending on what is going through his mind at the moment. This is seen in the text when he mentions, Maybe Ill feel better in the / morning and, Oh, Ill knock ’em dead next week. Ill go to Hartford. Im very / well liked in Hartford (Miller 23,42). This constant change in behavior along with talking to himself throughout the play shows the reader that there is an underlying issue that is not being confronted. This thought is supported in Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice when stating, Work-life imbalance can result in irritability, anxiety and depression and the number of hours worked correlates positively with hours spent worrying about work (Ashman and Gibson 127). With the amount of hours Willy works, he shows definite signs of all three behaviors including being suicidal. He strives to be the best man he can for his family, but he is too worried about work to accept the reality of not being the man he wants to be.
In his high points, one will feel that he is living a lie to himself and his family. This is because the reader already knows how Willy acts on a day-to-day basis. However, Willy contradicts himself when he has conversations with his brother Ben. He talks himself up when saying, Itr’s Brooklyn, I know, but we hunt too (Miller 54). He tries to impress his brother, who is a successful man, in order to seem better than what he actually is. Not only did he talk himself up, he also talked up about his sons. This is also when Willy is trying to impress Ben by saying, Thatr’s just the way Im bringing them up, Ben”rugged, well / liked, all-around (Miller 53). Willy tries his hardest to be like his brother by showing off things he never does. These little white lies ultimately show the reader that this is another way Willy cannot accept that his hard work will not pay off.
One will see when reading that Biff is the next character that struggles with his personal conflict almost as much as his father. Biff is much like Willy with how he deals with situations along with his temper. However, Biffr’s conflict is commitment. Early in the play we learn that Biff is always on the move and has had Twenty or thirty different kinds / of jobs (Miller 30). When each job results in the same outcome, we begin to learn that he struggles with commitment. Similarly, we can see this in his relationship with his family. During Willyr’s flashbacks, one notices that Biff and his father were inseparable when he was younger and sees his commitment issues begin when finds out about his fatherr’s affair, Willy looks at Biff, who is staring open-mouthed and horrified at The Woman (Miller 113). From this moment the reader learns that the tension between Biff and Willy is caused by a bigger problem. Biffr’s encounter with his dad keeps him from being able to have a stable job, stable relationship, and even a stable life.
Moreover, Millerr’s Death of a Salesman provides the reader with a Sympathetic tone amongst the characters. In Willyr’s flashbacks, he is a completely different person than the one he is at the present time. For example, when he talks to Biff about girls he mentions, You want to watch your schooling / first. Then when youre all set, therell be plenty of girls for a boy like / you (Miller 35). When Willy looks back on the past, he misses what he used to have with Biff. In these circumstances one will feel that he wishes he would have changed some of the choices that made in his life.
On another hand, Linda also portrays a sympathetic tone throughout the play. When dealing with Willy, Linda is always calm and collected and knows that she brings him help. This is shown in the beginning of the play when she says, Your mind is overactive, and / the mind is what counts dear (Miller 23). Linda acknowledges his feelings and realizes how to deal with Willy in his low moments. She keeps him from getting deeper into his thoughts by giving possibilities of why he is feeling the way he is. This is important because it shows the reader that Linda loves Willy under any circumstance, even though he does not treat her as well. Linda displays a sympathetic tone towards Willy even when not talking to him. While arguing with her sons, she questions, And what goes through a manr’s mind, driving seven hundred miles / home without having earned a cent? Why shouldnt he talk to him- / self? Why? (Miller 61). Linda wonders why her sons make fun of Willy after all that he has done to provide for them and feels sympathetic for Willy. She takes up for him because she knows his hard work is causing him to struggle mentally and physically. This is important because it shows the reader that Linda wants Willy to know that she is there for him until the very end.
After reading the play, one will linger on the thought of why Miller Included the thought process of Willy throughout his life like he did. Nonetheless, they will take away the fact that they need to look for signs for mental health issues and be there for anyone that struggles with something they cannot achieve. It will be an acknowledgement of mental health that will save a life of someone who feels they have no worth.