Death of a Salesman
Happy Loman’s Significance In Arthur Miller’s “Death Of A Salesman”
The definition of the American Dream is an important theme that is woven throughout the attitudes and actions of Arthur Miller’s characters in his play The Death of A Salesman. Happy Loman, a character dominated by his material greed and desire to crush anyone standing between him and the almighty dollar, represents a skewed perspective of that Dream, a perspective shared by an increasingly large amount of Americans. Through his insatiable appetite for power, lust, and wealth, Happy Loman embodies the modern capitalist American Dream.
And through his never-ending discontent and incessant feeling of unfulfillment, Happy also embodies the fallacy and shortcomings of that Dream.
One could consider Happy Loman to be a success. He may not be the president of his company (in fact he is one of two assistants to an assistant buyer), but at roughly thirty years of age, he has a steady job and a place of his own. And he’s moving up in the world, he’s getting somewhere.
And there’s nothing wrong with this. American society and capitalism in general is based on the Puritan individualist work ethic, which states that hard work breeds success and happiness.
But Happy isn’t succeeding because he works hard, because he’s well liked, or because he’s exceptionally good at what he does. He’s succeeding through the neo-American shortcut to happiness, the modern American Dream, which encourages cut-throat competition at every level. Happy, much like millions of other Americans, is moving up in the world by defeating his competition, by destroying all of those in his way. On page 23 and 24, he says, “All I can do now is wait for the merchandise manager to die”¦He’s a good friend of mine.” Happy desires more money, more power, and more responsibility strongly enough that he is willing to lose a good friend of his, just to get his job.
His job. Not a job. Another reason why Happy symbolizes the new American Dream is his obsession with ruining the lives of others in order to better himself. “I don’t know what gets into me, maybe I just have an overdeveloped sense of competition or something”¦” he says on page 25. Happy can get any woman he wants. Yet he deliberately chooses to sleep with the wives and fiancÃ©es of his co-workers and bosses as a way of defeating them in some nonexistent competition for power. Therefore, despite the fact that they may be ahead of him in the business world, Happy can find solace in the fact that he “went and ruined” his bosses’ spouses. “Isn’t that a crummy characteristic?” he asks Biff. Of course it is, but it doesn’t stop Happy from doing it over and over.
Happy may represent the quintessential American in the aspects mentioned above, but what truly cements his position as the epitome of the neo-capitalist is his pervading feelings of unhappiness and discontent. When Happy speaks of possibly becoming the new merchandise manager, he says that he would do the same thing that the old merchandise manager did: build a mansion of a house for himself, then sell in in two months. He says on page 23, “It’s crazy”¦it’s what I always wanted. My own apartment, a car, and plenty of women.” Yet when Biff asks if he is content, Happy retorts, “Hell no!”. When speaking of women, whom Happy appears to be incredibly fond of, he says, “I keep knockin’ em over, and it doesn’t mean anything.” And why is Happy discontent? Because he defined the American Dream, his American Dream, in terms of money and power, instead of happiness and self-actualization. He will never be content, and neither will anyone else who shares his Dream.
When goals are determined in denominations of currency, then they can never be reached, because no one can possess all the money that exists in the world. What’s better than a Toyota? A Lexus. What’s better than a Lexus? A Ferrari. What’s better than a Ferrari? A hovercraft? A yacht? 2 yachts? A goddamn jumbo jet? It never ends. And thus, the American Dream can be crushed under the weight of a dollar bill when it is improperly defined. The Dream becomes farce, a crock, a hoax, an old wives’ tale, an urban legend, an orange that consists of nothing but the peel, a person whose soul, whose brains have been sucked out of his nose by little aliens wearing wing-tipped shoes, carrying attachÃ© cases, and driving hovercrafts with the future wives of their bosses in the passenger seat. But it doesn’t have to.
“Death of a Salesman” by Miller and “A Doll’s House” by Ibsen
“Death of a Salesman” and “A Doll’s House” are two plays that were written in different centuries. In these plays, among other things, is presented the place that women hold in the family, as well as in the society. Although in many aspects, the two protagonists of the plays, Linda and Nora respectively, appear to have things in common, at the same time they are very different, since Nora seems to be more modern and liberal than Linda, which is ironic given the fact that Ibsen wrote his play seventy years earlier than Miller.
The representation of the two women in these two plays is what will be discussed in this paper.
In “Death of a Salesman”, Linda embodies the role of the traditional American woman, which was to take care of her husband, her children and the house, regardless of her personal aspirations, and dreams. The woman is expected to stay at home and engage in everyday house works, like cooking, cleaning and sewing, while the man, as the head of the family, is expected to find a well-respected job position because it was the man’s duty to provide for the entire family.
So Linda has given up on everything she hoped for in her life, she sacrificed herself, just to be with her husband and her two sons, even though her husband doesn’t seem to be treating her very well.
Willy disregards every word Linda attempts to interject in family conversations by interrupting her and accusing her of interrupting him. He shouts at her, he doesn’t let her speak and when she does, he speaks to her badly. A distinct example is the passage towards the end of Act I, in which Linda attempts in vain to speak her mind: Linda: “Maybe things are beginning to-” Willy: “Stop interrupting!” (1907), and later on when Linda tries again to say something Willie tells her abruptly “Will you let me talk?” (1907), while he is the one doing most of the talking all this time.
Despite her husband’s constant degradation, Linda appears to be a woman who is very loyal, loving, caring and understanding to her husband. Not even once did she complain about Willy’s belittling behavior. Linda seems to be for Willy the perfect wife: she always speaks very nicely to him, she makes sure that his clothes are always mended, and that he has got everything he needs with him before he leaves for a trip. She loves him very much and she doesn’t seem to hold against him the terrible way that he treats her. A distinct example is the fact that right after the incident of insulting her, she proposes to sing to him a lullaby, so that he could relax : Linda: “Just rest. Should I sing to you?” Willy: “Yeah. Sing to me” (1909).
At the same time, Linda stands up for him, takes his side, even if it means to get into a fight with her sons, for not treating him with the respect he deserves as their father: Linda: “He’s the dearest man in the world to me, and I won’t have anyone making him feel unwanted and low and blue …Either he’s your father and you pay him that respect, or else you’re not to come here” (1902). Also, and she tries to protect him by asking for their sons’ help, when she realized that he had been trying to commit suicide, since she didn’t want to do anything that would let Willy know that she has understood that he wanted to die. She was very concerned not to hurt her husband’s pride, realizing that if she confronted him, Willy would be devastated: “How can I mention it to him? Every day I go down and take away that little rubber pipe. But, when he comes home, I put it back where it was. How can I insult him that way?” (1904).
Linda is also a very dedicated mother to her children, that she managed to raise in the best way possible, when she was all alone with them, while her husband was away for a long period of time. She has always been with them; she has educated them since the day they were born and she has tried to install in them good values. Even now, that her sons are adults, she still reprimands them about being selfish, impolite, rude and disrespectful towards their father. And her sons seem to love her and think very highly of her; for them she’s the perfect role model for a future wife: Happy: “Somebody with character, with resistance! Like Mom, y’know?” (1885) This is ironic, since her own husband doesn’t seem to appreciate her, and treats her badly.
On the other hand, Nora, the protagonist of “A Doll’s House”, represents the society’s notion for the women in the late 1800s, which is not very different from that of the mid 1900s, in the sense that the wife has to stay at home, taking care of her husband and children, and doing all the household chores. Under no circumstance is a woman expected to work and contribute to the family income for the man, for once more, the man is the one that works and brings in the money.
Thus, poor Nora is financially dependent, in a great extent, on Trovald, and every time she wants to buy something she has to ask him to give her some money: Nora: “Your could always give me money, Torvald. Only what you think you could spare. And then I could buy myself something with it later on.” (1768). Nora, like all the women of her era, is controlled by her husband, who is the one that wants to make all the decisions for her, even what she would or wouldn’t eat, like when he forbidden her to eat the macaroons that she liked so much.
Nora, just like Linda, is very concerned with her husband’s health, but instead of just watching she decides to do what she can to save his life, even if this means acting behind his back and hurting his pride, in order to get the necessary amount of money to save his life. Nora: “Torvald is a man with … pride – it would be terribly embarrassing and humiliating for him if he thought he owed anything to me” (1775) because for a man that was considered to be strong enough, it would be regarded as an insult to admit that he needs the help of a helpless woman. What Nora did shows that although she appears to be a typical woman of her era, in reality she’s very different, she is a rebel that risks everything so that she won’t lose the man that she loves. In the end, when everything is revealed, she’s very hurt, for she realized that the man that she risked everything for never loved her, and that all she was to him was a beautiful toy-doll to play with, and not a person with real feelings.
The way that the men in her life have treated her is expressed in one word through the metaphor that Ibsen uses: a doll. That has been very confusing to Nora and her role as a mother of three children, since it has made her also think her children as dolls. The only thing that Nora does with her children is to play games. She has completely trusted their upbringing to the nursemaid without worrying about them or trying to teach them values and how to behave, like Linda did. In the end, she realizes that she would have never become a good mother to her children, and in fear of hurting them or turning them into dolls she decides to leave them forever: “And never see the children again either. Never, never.” (1813).
In the end, Nora realizes that she had been living a lie, and she is faced with the dilemma of engaging the responsibilities to her husband and children or the responsibilities to herself. But the need to break free from the simple, decorative roles that she has been assigned, and to find herself, is greater than anything else. She can’t be of any use to anyone without discovering her self first, and see what she can do on her own: “If I’m ever to reach any understanding of myself and the things around me, I must learn to stand alone” (1818). She’s young and beautiful, contrary to Linda who stayed until the end with her husband and children, and she has the whole life ahead of her to love and to be loved, make a new family, since she finally made the decision to leave Trovald and never come back, unless “a miracle of miracles” (1821) would happen.
Both plays discuss the position of the women in the family and in the society. Two different women, from two different times were victims of their era. The one is old, unattractive but caring and supportive; she is Linda, the woman of the 1940s. The other is young, and beautiful but also more modern and demanding; she is Nora, the woman of the 1870s. Both of them weren’t happy with their lives, but only one of them, Nora, finds the strength to leave and change her life. And that is why the Linda was the victim of the capitalistic society, while Nora’s more of a feminist.
Death of a Salesman Idealism and Truth
?Idealism describes the belief or pursuit of a perfect vision often based upon unrealistic principles. This pursuit is often contrasted and opposed by truth. The truth and reality in an individual’s life is what enables this person to remain grounded and down to earth. An individual must set themselves high expectations in order to be their best, but they must also acknowledge the fact that everything they desire is not achievable. The imbalance of idealism and truth in an individual’s life can have calamitous effects.
It is significant in an individual’s life because it can lead to the deterioration of an individual’s sanity, destruction of family relationships and ultimately death. This is exemplified in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, by Willy Loman. Willy spends his whole life pursuing the American Dream. This pursuit leaves him in debt and lacking less than a sliver of sanity. This man lacks the capacity to face the truth; the reality of his situation.
The negative effect that his dream has on his family and life is simply overlooked and ignored.
As Willy’s life swerves out of control, he tumbles deeper into the abyss of his idealism, to a point of no return. The inability for an individual to achieve a single-minded dream can lead to the deterioration of their sanity. In Willy’s case, he has spent his whole life pursuing the American Dream; a dream that is impossible to achieve. His inability to cope with the failure of his life at first simply causes him to feel lost, but eventually causes him to go insane. Ironically enough this man, so set on having the perfect life, has an affair with a secretary of one of the buyer.
This is simply a financial transaction of gifts for sex and access to the buyers. Willy does this to escape the truth of his life, and in the process completely contradicts his goals. In an attempt to protect himself from the reality of his life, he goes into self-protection mode. His own mind morphs his memories to achieve and establish his desires. Willy’s constant flashbacks lay the groundwork to support that he is becoming senile and that his idealistic tendencies caused him to lose the ability to recognize reality from illusion.
Willy is a very insecure individual, and he tries to make himself look better by lying to himself and his family. In his world of delusion, Willy is a hugely successful man. He disguises his profound anxiety and self-doubt with extreme arrogance. Biff nails it on the head when he points out the fact that Willy “had all the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong. ” The overpowering pursuit of idealism over truth can lead an individual to lack the ability to cope with reality. Willy has a lot of potential, but he also has a whopping case of self-deception paired with misguided life goals.
He has based his whole life on supporting others and does not know how to live any other way. The effect of lacking a manly figure during his youthful development is substantial effect in how Willy raises his own sons. In Willy’s pursuit of the American Dream, he clearly instills in his sons that being well-liked is more important than character. By emphasizing likability as being the most desirable quality for success he places a higher premium on outward projection over inner strength of character. He simply passes on these unrealistic qualities to his sons.
“I never in my life told him anything but decent things. ” Willy’s memories reveal that the values with which he raised his sons has made Biff comes to consider himself exceptional and entitled to whatever he wants regardless of how hard he works or whether it harms others. Biff’s perfect illusion is shattered when he discovers that his father is having an affair and he feels hateful and confused about his father’s actions. His excessive pursuit of idealism shatters Willy’s relationship with his son; this is something that he does not have the ability to repair.
Willy’s pursuit of idealism in his life was extremely unrealistic and eventually prevented him from having the ability to see the truth in life. He spent his whole life trying to provide for his family. He wanted the life of a salesman. To be well-liked and have a massive funeral when he dies. The reality is that he spent his whole life pursuing unrealistic dreams based on negative personal values. Willy himself points out that he’s “worth more dead than alive. ” It’s quite tragic that Willy believes he has to kill himself to feel that he is worth something to his family.
The reality of the situation is that his death is in vain. The Loman’s only had one more payment left on the house, and don’t actually need the money anymore. But in his blinded illusion, Willy cannot see through or cope with his failure. This causes him to believe that he is worth nothing more alive and kills himself to enable his family to collect his life insurance money. The unevenness of idealism and truth in an individual’s life can lead to the loss of sanity, deterioration of relationships and even death.
By having a good balanced of idealism and truth, there is a greater potential that an individual will discover contentment in life. While pursuing an ideal, an individual may be confronted with truth that must be recognized, and if ignored will have cataclysmic effect. Idealism provides a good source of motivation to strive for excellence and truth reminds us that we are all flawed. Together, with an appropriate balance of both, you have the tools to live a life happy.
Tennessee Williams’ and Arthur Miller’s Plays Analysis
Growing up is a major part of human life. For males, a strong father figure is imperative during childhood and adolescence. This is needed for the child to develop their father’s characteristics by learning from them and following in their father’s footsteps. However, two characters, lack a strong father figure and it affects them negatively. These two characters are Biff Loman, from Death of a Salesman and Tom Wingfield, from The Glass Menagerie. Both are affected differently by the deficiency of a father whom has favorable traits that would be salutary to both characters development.
Instead they form the same unfavorable characteristics as their father. These traits cause them to begin to live in a fantasy world that their fathers also had lived in. For both characters, the lack of a strong father figure leads them to develop detrimental personality traits that ultimately distance them from their families and the ones that they love.
In Death of a Salesman, the main character, Willy Loman is consumed by his false pretenses of what a real man should be.
These illusions include how he believes that a real man is measured by how big his bank account is and how popular he is. Willy feeds these falsities into the mind of his eldest son, Biff, who believes them to be true since he looks up to his father so much. Biff would do anything to appease his father, but his whole world comes crumbling down when he realizes that his father has been unfaithful and has cheated on his wife. At this time Biff realizes that he has been living a fantasy due to all the hot air that his father has been feeding him, but it is too late and the damage has already been done.
Biff has developed all of the same unwanted traits that his father had. Biff cannot work for anyone as he feels it makes him unsuccessful as his father had been. Also the confinement that his father has caused him leads him to want to escape from it all and he deserts his family to go out West. During the play he comes back but he meeting his father brings back up Biff’s upbringing and he realizes that he needs to escape from all the bad pretenses that Willy has feed him. In the sense Biff did not physically lack a father, but the fact that Willy’s characteristics were so detrimental to Biff show that Biff did in fact lack a characteristically sound father.
In The Glass Menagerie, Tom Wingfield experiences a similar predicament as Biff. In the play, Tom and his family are deserted by Tom’s father when Tom was young. This lack of a father shows to be nothing but detrimental to Tom’s development as a man. Tom begins to feel trapped in by his handicapped sister and over-bearing mother. He then realizes why his father left, to escape the unwanted pressure that the family has caused. Tom then begins to develop these same characteristics as his father. He wants to live his life like the ones that he sees in movies but he realizes that, like his father he needs to first escape from his current life, so he deserts his family in search for a better life for himself. Unlike his father though, he stayed as long as he could to try to put them in a better position and then he was going to leave. Even still, the characteristics he developed due to the lack of a father caused him to desert his family.
Biff and Tom both lack a strong father figure in their lives. As a result they know nothing better and they are forced to develop the same unfavorable traits as their fathers. The results for both characters are different as both fathers have unique faults, but the main result is the same. This ultimate result is that both characters fall quickly from their fantasy world that have been instilled onto them by their fathers and they come to face the harshness that is reality. They cannot face this and they have to escape from it and desert their family.
- Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams
- Death of a Salesman,Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman- Essay-Reflection
In Death of Salesman, the conflicts that the characters face through out in the play, can be interpreted as reflections of the problems in America’s society today. The majority, if not all of these problems can be traced back to Willy Loman as the source. Willy Loman’s longing to be successful (either actually through himself or through his sons) was the origin of all the other problems, and was the reason he could not control himself and he ruined his life and his family.
The most obvious societal problem face in the play is greed. Willy’s obsession with having money is a perfect symbol of the larges part of society, the part whose lives revolve around acquiring money, and having “the best”. The people have unrealistic expectations just like Willy. In Act 1, Willy is hallucinating about his brother Ben and he says, “The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle, and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and he’s rich!” (41).
Willy and countless people in today’s society, have unrealistic expectations, and are never honestly satisfied. They are willing to do anything to get to the top, even if it means hurting others, and most of the time they are left with nothing. Just like Willy in the garden, muttering, “Nothing’s planted. I don’t have a thing in the ground”; because they have done nothing substantial with their lives and have not “planted” anything (122). They used all their time concerned with money and neglected to invest in anything concrete, like real love, and having a family. They have no real lives outside of materialistic things, just like Willy.
Willy’s constant disregard for others and their lives is another example of a problem America’s society faces being represented in the play. In today’s society, it is seen as expectable to push others down, and put your self first. In Death of a Salesman, Willy does this constantly when it comes time to be honest and care for his family. Willy’s actions greatly affected his family, and were the reason for many of Biff, Happy and Linda’s problems. When he was fired, Willy said, “I was fired and I am looking for a little good news to tell your mother, because the woman has waited and suffered”(107).
Willy, like many people with any sort of conscience today, feels bad and wants to tell Linda that he was fired (something that will drastically effect his entire family, especially considering their already pending financial problems), but this want is smothered by his need to have “good news”. This want is essentially just a ploy to make him feel better about himself, so once again Willy puts Linda second to his own needs, which is really the reason for all the waiting and suffering she had to do. This disregard, is also obvious in today’s society, one person’s actions can affect the whole community. Like in the case of all the terrible decisions George Bush. George Bush made decisions for the country, that were not for the common good, but his good, and now America is left picking up the pieces now that he’s gone.
Many people argue that a major problem with the order of today’s society is that people no longer respect their elders. Arthur Miller, obviously saw this occurring even in the 1950 when he wrote the book. Willy raised Biff and Happy, putting all in hopes, dreams and inhabitations into them. But when they were old enough no to have to depend on them anymore, they walked away from him. Linda even acknowledges it and says, “It sounds old fashioned and silly but I tell you he put his whole life into you and you’ve turned your backs on him”(60). Biff and Happy used their father to become who they were, but when he needed them to live, they walked away from him. This is even more obvious of the problems faced today when looked at as if Willy represents all the older people in our society. The elderly are looked down upon, are thought to be crazy, and have their jobs, license and overall most real concessions, taken away for no reason other than age. We discriminate against people who should be our equals and treated with respect.
Peer pressure, is not just something that effects school aged children on the playground. Adults are pressured every day by, family, friends, co-workers into doing things that do not necessarily want to do. This is a tremendous problem in society because most of the time when people are doing something they do not want to do they are going to be upset. This feeling of being upset, usually leads to emotions that are more drastic such as being stressed and just completely lost and unhappy. Willy’s pressure on the Biff and Happy is the perfect example of this pressure to do things you normally would not do. Willy constantly says through out the play, “the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want”, this pressure to be well liked is what pushed Biff to neglect his school work and Happy to only care about pleasing woman and his father (30).
Willy always pushed the boys to have and to be the greatest at everything they did. But in the end Willy’s pressure pushed the boys to make reckless decisions and made them feel like they could never do enough to please their father. Biff took to stealing and even admits that his father’s pressure got to him in Act 2 when he says, “I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody!” (131). Pressure can sometimes be positive, like when it pressure pushes you to give your best effort, and sometimes negative, like when it causes you to conform excessively. As in the case of Happy, who by the end of the play, even after his father kills himself is determined to follow in Willy’s foot steps and even says, “It’s the only dream you can have – to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him” (139).
The biggest complaint that is heard from adults about today’s youth is the constant feeling of entitlement. Even when unjustified. Willy’s outlook on his life is a perfect example on teen’s unjustified feelings of entitlement in today’s culture. In the scene where he goes to talk to Howard about his job, Willy says, “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away-a man is not a piece of fruit.” (82). Willy feels that Howard (the son of the father who had formerly promised Willy that he would be rewarded for his service to the company) has gone back on the word of his father by forgetting the salesman in his golden years, throwing away the peel after eating the orange, so to speak.
But what Willy does not realize is that Howard owes him nothing, and neither did his father. Anything people do out of kindness is simply that, kindness. Students sometimes think that just because they received a good mark in a class that it will automatically be the same the next quarter, and aren’t always willing to do the work needed to earn the grade. But what Willy and countless others don’t realize is that no one is owed anything. During and argument Willy has with his son, Biff makes the comment, “Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you!” This infuriates Willy who counterattacks, “I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!” (132). Seen through Willy and people thought the world, entitlement is an illusion that blinds our work/life ethic and us.
Death of a Salesman shows both family and societiatal conflicts; however, these conflicts are definitely more powerful when looked at as societal problems .It forces you to evaluate the ethics and principles of the culture we live in. and how they eventually reflect the things we truly hold important. However the reflection is not just the problems, but also all the damage that results from making those the most valued things. Death of a Salesman is a disheartening play but it is an honest reflection of our society.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: 1949. Print.
“Death of a Salesman” Detailed Analysis
Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge
Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Prince of Asturias Award, and was married to Marilyn Monroe.
It is important to bear that the story is told through the mind and memory of Willy Loman and there is a constant back and forth between two periods ,1928 and 1942.The first period is one of the happiness and contentment when Willy Loman is young and dynamic and the children ,Biff and Happy are running about in shorts ;the second is one of gloom and discontent -Willy is now old and ,virtually out of a job and the children are grown up and gone their different ways.
The play is thus structured in such a way to show the pleasures of the past ,the dreams and hopes the characters had and how these aspirations had turned sour. Willy Loman had built his life in such a way that he had finally trapped himself in an impossible situation.
Willy Loman ,the protagonist in the play was a travelling salesman in the services of the wagnor company for 34 years. When his old boss died ,his son Howard took over the administration of the company .Willy’s family consists of three other members ,his wife Linda, Biff,the elder son and Happy, the younger son.
Willy unexpectedly returned on the same day he had left for New England territory on a business tour. Linda felt that her husband is thoroughly exhausted both physically and mentally and he has almost reached the breaking point. Willy, who is 63, has driven the car off the road twice or three times and when he reached home he was found to be panic stricken ,desolate and shattered.
Willy liked his eldest son Biff,who was wellknown as a football champion. Though he is 34 , it is unfortunate that he could not settle in life. Inspite of the fact that three colleges offered him scholarship in recognition of his proficiency in football, he did not join any college . Happy, the women chaser also could not settle in life.
For the next two days, immediately after his unexpected return, Willy’s mind was rather disturbed with thoughts of today’s realities inter mingled with yesterday’s half forgotten episodes. He felt that it was mistake on his part not to have followed his elder brother Ben ,who dared his way into the diamond minds of Africa and amassed fabulous wealth . Willy’s guilty consciousness pricked him at the flash back scene of Boston hotel room, when his son Biff makes a surprise visit and finds his father having an affair with a strange lady .After this episode, Biff seemed to hold a grudge against his father and could never again bring himself to trust Willy. As suggested by Linda, Willy visits Howard, the young Boss and request for a change of job in the New York City office as he is physically and mentally incapacitated as a travelling sales man. When the request was unceremoniously turned down by Howard and Willy dismissed from service he protest “You cannot eat orange and throw the peel away; man is not a piece of fruit”. Willy is very much frustrated and disillusioned at the behavior of capitalists who lacked the human milk of kindness, sympathy and gratitude.
Biff’s attempt to raise a loan from Bill Oliver, the proprietor of sports goods company also failed. Oliver, who once liked Biff immensely, now refused to recognise him now because Biff has stolen a fountain pen, Charley ,Willy’s neighbour extended a helping hand in those days of adversity. He ,not only advanced a loan to him but also offered him a job to him. But Willy refused to accept it with a false sense of dignity. The two sons invited the father for a dinner party at a prominent restaurant in the city. But Happy picked up two call girls and left the place along with Biff, leaving Willy alone.
Willy felt humiliated and this experience was shocking and unbearable when Biff and Happy returned home, Linda ordered them out of the house by the next morning. She was planning to commit suicide on a particular night .Willy was left alone while all others went upstairs. He has insured his life for 20,000 dollars. Once he dies, the family will be entitled to receive the amount from the insurance company. So Willy got into his car and drove madly through darkness, only to kill himself. His funeral was attended only by Linda, the two sons, charley and his son Bernard. Linda could not stand the strain of separation from her beloved husband; but still she stooped down and dropped flowers on the grave of Willy.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN AS A TRAGEDY:
According to the traditional views based on Aristotelian cannons, the tragic hero was to be a person of high rank and status. So that his down fall could produce an inevitable emotional effect on the audience. In ancient Greek tragedies, fate or destiny is mainly responsible for the downfall of human beings. But Shakespeare and Marlow attributed human misfortune mainly to the personal draw backs of the tragic heroes themselves and hardly to the hidden forces which we describe as fate or destiny.
Miller generally departs from both these concepts of tragedy as in the tragic hero in the Death of a sales man belongs to the middle class. He does not hold the view that tragic effect can be produced only by the downfall of a highly placed individual in society. It matters not at all whether hero falls from a great height or small one, whether he highly conscious or dimly aware of what is happening ,if the intensity is their ‘America grows like a giant in unimaginable proportions ‘.
Willy symbolically stands for all the low men in American business community not just salesmen -who in a way sell themselves. Willy sells himself and in the process wears himself out and he is finally discarded when he is no longer useful. Willy begins as a salesman 36 years ago, opens up unheard of territories to their trade mark, but in his old age they take his salary away. It is pity that once Willy’s energy is exhausted by the work that society has assigned to him, he is thrown aside and dismissed by the son of his old boss. Willy protests, “you cannot eat the orange and throw them peel “. Man is not a piece of fruit no doubt ,Willy loman is a superannuated employee, but he is rejected and ill treated by his employer at the end of his career. Even a change of job with less travelling was denied to him.
But still it may not be fully correct to say that Willy is wholly a victim of the prevailing social system. His own responsibility of his tragedy is by no means insignificant or negligible. In the first place he failed to realize his own limitations and short comings Willy has the conviction that success depends on personality, contacts and good cloths and that these will bring everything one wants in life. Obviously Willy is a prey to that magical book of Dale carnegie’s ‘How to win friends and influence people ‘ we know that mistake is that Willy had chosen a wrong profession for himself under the impression that the selling profession is the best in the world.
Secondly the sense of guilt which he carries with him due to his past infidelity to his wife has also serious repercussions in his mental stability .His affair with the woman in the hotel when he was visited by Biff hangs on his conscience. Biff’s discovery of Willy’s infidelity marks the crucial turning point in the relationship between the father and the son .There after Biff no longer believes Willy .
Another point to be noted is Willy’s incurable optimism .He has had higher expectation about the future of his elder son Biff who looks so charming as the Adonise in Greek mythology and who has earned high reputation as a good football champion. Biff has become disillusioned .For Biff ,life came to be an end with his match. He could neither make a mark in business nor could he go back to school to finish his course. Ironically Bernard who never represented University of Virginia, Bernard who pleaded to carry Biff’s helmet or shoulder guards , prospered. Bernard wins glory by pleading before the supreme court ,but he does this without any pushing from his father. According to Willy, they ought to be success at all; for both Charley and Bernard were not well liked. These tragic experiences shatter Willy’s conception of American dreams. No human or super natural agency interfered his life .The sense of frustration and psychological neurosis upsets his mental equilibrium and shatters him to pieces.
WILLY LOMAN: An insecure, self-deluded traveling salesman. Willy believes wholeheartedly in the American Dream of easy success and wealth, but he never achieves it. Nor do his sons fulfill his hope that they will succeed where he has failed. When Willy’s illusions begin to fail under the pressing realities of his life, his mental health begins to unravel. The overwhelming tensions caused by this disparity, as well as those caused by the societal imperatives that drive Willy, form the essential conflict of Death of a Salesman.
BIFF LOMAN: Willy’s thirty-four-year-old elder son. Biff led a charmed life in high school as a football star with scholarship prospects, good male friends, and fawning female admirers. He failed math, however, and did not have enough credits to graduate. Since then, his kleptomania has gotten him fired from every job that he has held. Biff represents Willy’s vulnerable, poetic, tragic side. He cannot ignore his instincts, which tell him to abandon Willy’s paralyzing dreams and move out West to work with his hands. He ultimately fails to reconcile his life with Willy’s expectations of him.
LINDA LOMAN: Willy’s loyal, loving wife. Linda suffers through Willy’s grandiose dreams and self-delusions. Occasionally, she seems to be taken in by Willy’s self-deluded hopes for future glory and success, but at other times, she seems far more realistic and less fragile than her husband. She has nurtured the family through all of Willy’s misguided attempts at success, and her emotional strength and perseverance support Willy until his collapse.
HAPPY LOMAN: Willy’s thirty-two-year-old younger son. Happy has lived in Biffs shadow all of his life, but he compensates by nurturing his relentless sex drive and professional ambition. Happy represents Willy’s sense of self-importance, ambition, and blind servitude to societal expectations. Although he works as an assistant to an assistant buyer in a department store, Happy presents himself as supremely important. Additionally, he practices bad business ethics and sleeps with the girlfriends of his superiors.
CHARLEY- Willy’s next – door neighbor. Charley owns a successful business and his son, Bernard, is a wealthy, important lawyer. Willy is jealous of Charley’s success. Charley gives Willy money to pay his bills, and Willy reveals at one point, choking back tears, that Charley is his only friend.
BERNARD – Bernard is Charley’s son and an important, successful lawyer. Although Willy used to mock Bernard for studying hard, Bernard always loved Willy’s sons dearly and regarded Biff as a hero. Bernard’s success is difficult for Willy to accept because his own sons’ lives do not measure up.
BEN – Willy’s wealthy older brother. Ben has recently died and appears only in Willy’s “daydreams.” Willy regards Ben as a symbol of the success that he so desperately craves for himself and his sons.
THE WOMAN – Willy’s mistress when Happy and Biff were in high school. The Woman’s attention and admiration boost Willy’s fragile ego. When Biff catches Willy in his hotel room with The Woman, he loses faith in his father, and his dream of passing math and going to college dies.
HOWARD WAGNER – Willy’s boss. Howard inherited the company from his father, whom Willy regarded as “a masterful man” and “a prince.” Though much younger than Willy, Howard treats Willy with condescension and eventually fires him, despite Willy’s wounded assertions that he named Howard at his birth.
STANLEY – A waiter at Frank’s Chop House. Stanley and Happy seem to be friends, or at least acquaintances, and they banter about and ogle Miss Forsythe together before Biff and Willy arrive at the restaurant.
MISS FORSYTHE AND LETTA – Two young women whom Happy and Biff meet at Frank’s Chop House. It seems likely that Miss Forsythe and Letta are prostitutes, judging from Happy’s repeated comments about their moral character and the fact that they are “on call.”
JENNY – Charley’s secretary
THEMES, MOTIFS & SYMBOLS
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
THE AMERICAN DREAM
Willy believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the American Dream- that a “well liked” and “personally attractive” man in business will indubitably and deservedly acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. Oddly, his fixation with the superficial qualities of attractiveness and likeability is at odds with a more gritty, more rewarding understanding of the American Dream that identifies hard work without complaint as the key to success. Willy’s interpretation of likeability is superficial-he childishly dislikes Bernard because he considers Bernard a nerd. Willy’s blind faith in his stunted version of the American Dream leads to his rapid psychological decline when he is unable to accept the disparity between the Dream and his own life.
Willy’s life charts a course from one abandonment to the next, leaving him in greater despair each time. Willy’s father leaves him and Ben when Willy is very young, leaving Willy neither a tangible (money) nor an intangible (history) legacy. Ben eventually departs for Alaska, leaving Willy to lose himself in a warped vision of the American Dream. Likely a result of these early experiences, Willy develops a fear of abandonment, which makes him want his family to conform to the American Dream. His efforts to raise perfect sons, however, reflect his inability to understand reality. The young Biff, whom Willy considers the embodiment of promise, drops Willy and Willy’s zealous ambitions for him when he finds out about Willy’s adultery. Biff’s ongoing inability to succeed in business furthers his estrangement from Willy. When, at Frank’s Chop House, Willy finally believes that Biff is on the cups of greatness, Biff shatters Willy’s illusions and, along with Happy, abandons the deluded, babbling Willy in the washroom.
Willy’s primary obsession throughout the play is what he considers to be Biff’s betrayal of his ambitions for him. Willy believes that he has every right to expect Biff to fulfill the promise inherent in him. When Biff walks out on Willy’s ambitions for him, Willy takes this rejection as a personal affront (he associates it with “insult” and “spite”). Willy, after all, is a salesman, and Biff’s ego-crushing rebuff ultimately reflects Willy’s inability to sell him on the American Dream-the product in which Willy himself believes most faithfully. Willy assumes that Biff’s betrayal stems from Biff’s discovery of Willy’s affair with The Woman-a betrayal of Linda’s love. Whereas Willy feels that Biff has betrayed him, Biff feels that Willy, a “phony little fake,” has betrayed him with his unending stream of ego-stroking lies.
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
Willy’s tendency to mythologize people contributes to his deluded understanding of the world. He speaks of Dave Singleman as a legend and imagines that his death must have been beautifully noble. Willy compares Biff and Happy to the mythic Greek figures Adonis and Hercules because he believes that his sons are pinnacles of “personal attractiveness” and power through “well liked”-ness; to him, they seem the very incarnation of the American Dream.
Willy’s mythologizing proves quite nearsighted, however. Willy fails to realize the hopelessness of Singleman’s lonely, on-the-job, on-the-road death. Trying to achieve what he considers to be Singleman’s heroic status, Willy commits himself to a pathetic death and meaningless legacy (even if Willy’s life insurance policy ends up paying off, Biff wants nothing to do with Willy’s ambition for him).
THE AMERICAN WEST, ALASKA, AND THE AFRICAN JUNGLE
These regions represent the potential of instinct to Biff and Willy. Willy’s father found success in Alaska and his brother, Ben, became rich in Africa; these exotic locales, especially when compared to Willy’s banal Brooklyn neighborhood, crystallize how Willy’s obsession with the commercial world of the city has trapped him in an unpleasant reality. Whereas Alaska and the African jungle symbolize Willy’s failure, the American West, on the other hand, symbolizes Biff’s potential. Biff realizes that he has been content only when working on farms, out in the open. His westward escape from both Willy’s delusions and the commercial world of the eastern United States suggests a nineteenth-century pioneer mentality-Biff, unlike Willy, recognizes the importance of the individual.
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Seeds represent for Willy the opportunity to prove the worth of his labor, both as a salesman and a father. His desperate, nocturnal attempt to grow vegetables signifies his shame about barely being able to put food on the table and having nothing to leave his children when he passes. Willy feels that he has worked hard but fears that he will not be able to help his offspring any more than his own abandoning father helped him. The seeds also symbolize Willy’s sense of failure with Biff. Despite the American Dream’s formula for success, which Willy considers infallible, Willy’s efforts to cultivate and nurture Biff went awry. Realizing that his all-American football star has turned into a lazy bum, Willy takes Biff’s failure and lack of ambition as a reflection of his abilities as a father.
To Willy, diamonds represent tangible wealth and, hence, both validation of one’s labor (and life) and the ability to pass material goods on to one’s offspring, two things that Willy desperately craves. Correlatively, diamonds, the discovery of which made Ben a fortune, symbolize Willy’s failure as a salesman. Despite Willy’s belief in the American Dream, a belief unwavering to the extent that he passed up the opportunity to go with Ben to Alaska, the Dream’s promise of financial security has eluded Willy. At the end of the play, Ben encourages Willy to enter the “jungle” finally and retrieve this elusive diamond-that is, to kill himself for insurance money in order to make his life meaningful.
LINDA’S AND THE WOMAN’S STOCKINGS
Willy’s strange obsession with the condition of Linda’s stockings foreshadows his later flashback to Biff’s discovery of him and The Woman in their Boston hotel room. The teenage Biff accuses Willy of giving away Linda’s stockings to The Woman. Stockings assume a metaphorical weight as the symbol of betrayal and sexual infidelity. New stockings are important for both Willy’s pride in being financially successful and thus able to provide for his family and for Willy’s ability to ease his guilt about, and suppress the memory of, his betrayal of Linda and Biff.
THE RUBBER HOSE
The rubber hose is a stage prop that reminds the audience of Willy’s desperate attempts at suicide. He has apparently attempted to kill himself by inhaling gas, which is, ironically, the very substance essential to one of the most basic elements with which he must equip his home for his family’s health and comfort-heat. Literal death by inhaling gas parallels the metaphorical death that Willy feels in his struggle to afford such a basic necessity.
The play ‘Death of a Salesman’ revolves mainly around a conflict
What are the reasons for Willy’s failure as a business man?
American dream in the play ‘Death of a salesman’.
What is the central theme of the play ‘Death of a salesman’.
The father son conflict in the play ‘Death of a salesman’.
The hotel scene in the play ‘Death of a salesman’.
The role of mother Linda Loman in the play ‘Death of a salesman’.
Why did Biff Loman leave the school?
The significance of the title’Death of a salesman’.
Why did Willy commit suicide?
The flash back scene in the play ‘Death of a salesman’.
Miller’s play as a critique of the American way of life.
Death of a Salesman Context
Death of a Salesman is a play that consists of a HISTORICAL background which is key to understanding the play. It was written in 1949, just a few years after the World War ll was over, meaning the United States, where the play occurs, was going through many changes. For example, the war caused an increase in industrial production markets and non-farming business. For the poorest Americans, however, the economic situation was not improved as America started having high inflation, causing problems for the poorest citizens to purchase the basics.
Also, the government started to create policies which helped larger corporate farmers but not smaller farmers. Happy, a sales clerk and Biff, a farm worker, had the lowest-paid jobs in the country, leading them to some trouble in maintaining dignity in society. For Americans, dignity and pride were very important things. Due to their victories during the war, Americans felt proud and had a feeling of superiority over the world. This lead to their need of proving that capitalism was better than communism.
Because of this, Americans felt responsible for protecting their nation from any influences from communist Soviet Union. This period of time where Americans felt the obligation to achieve financial success in order to show gratitude for the liberty they had as a democratic society and also to defeat the Soviets is now called the Cold War era. During this period of time, people like Willy relied too much on long-term credit to show they were financially successful and ended up having trouble in giving their families the basics. In the play, this Cold War attitude is shown by Willy’s preoccupation with his position in society and financial status. Willy’s worry also represents some of the SOCIAL context in the play as he fears not being accepted in society; he wants to be “well liked”. American society changed after WWll. Before, people were motivated by morals and rules but after the Cold War era started, Americans became motivated bywhat others thought of them. Willy represents the people in American society who lost their identity due to their need to achieve social standards.
This idea is reflected at the end of the play where Biff says that Willy “didn’t know who he was.” This social change may have been a cause of POLITICAL change because, as a result of The Great Depression, American government became more influential on citizens’ daily lives. Because of this, and also due to an increase in media communication such as radio and television, Americans started to feel like they belonged to a large, connected society and along came a desire to be accepted by their peers in society.
Miller also shows some of the CULTURAL background behind the play through three of his main characters: Willy, Ben and Biff as the three of them, similar to many Americans at the time, show they are eager to achieve “The American Dream”. Two versions of the American Dream are mentioned in the play. One is represented by Willy, focused mostly on money which was a way Americans found to show they had the “freedom and liberty” to purchase material goods. The other version is shown through Biff and Ben with their “go West, young man” mythology representing the dream of having the liberty for new adventures. Leticia Hosang
Drama Story Death Of A Salesman
Death of a Salesman is a play written by Arthur Miller. Basically, Miller was not a very prolific writer and Death of a Salesman had been his most famous work. At a certain point, this particular play could be regarded as a tragedy although not in the normal sense. What I mean when I said ‘tragedy though not in the normal sense” is that usually we associate tragedy from a person with a very high status who in the end had been faced with many problems which led to his failure.
However, such had not been the case with this particular play since from the beginning Willy Loman really never had anything good.
The brilliance within this play lies with the fact that Miller had been able to portray a certain sense on his audience that tragedy is not for the rich or for the better-off person’s alone. Rather, tragedy is a part of our everyday life and thus it could happen to anyone of us.
He had been able to portray that particular part by making the play revolve most on Willy Loman. As a matter of fact, Loman is almost the same as that of being a ‘low man’. The play made use of interplay of two time frames basically that of the past and the present. The protagonist in this story is Willy Loman whose occupation is that of a businessman.
Willy had been one of the victims of the so-called American dream and he love competitions. All throughout the play phrases such as ‘well-liked’, ‘I’m going to lose weight’ and the like could be found, and they are repeated numerous time. One may wonder what those repetitions mean. Basically, the significance behind those repetitions lies on the fact that Willy believe that it is the outer appearance which would bring you success and not one’s intelligence per se. For Willy academic performance is of no significance, rather it is being admired and well-liked that really matters.
This can be seen from the scenes wherein he often reiterated that Charley and Bernard are both ‘liked’ but not ‘well-liked’. All throughout the play Willy dreamed of being a very popular salesman so that when he dies people all throughout the world would come to pay their respect to him. The reason why he had not been a successful man may lie on the fact that what he tried to sell had not been his goods, rather it was his character. Dave Salesman had been Willy’s role model and he greatly idolizes the man to the point that he wanted his death to be the same as that of Singleman.
Miller showed his genius by naming his characters “Singleman” and “Loman” since there is a great allegory between the two. Miller named the pleasant salesman as Singleman mainly because he wanted his audience to think of Dave as a single man who had never been committed to anyone and who had never shared his life with his family. In contrast, Loman is almost the same as that of “low man” which could possibly mean a man with a very low sense of morality and the like. Thus, since Singleman is Loman’s hero it greatly shows the contrast between the two and it also showed Willy’s weird opinion of what success is like.
The death of a salesman talks not only of the literal death of Willy who as the story goes committed suicide since it is the only alternative he sees in order to secure his dreams (which re left for his sons to continue), rather the story also talked about the death of Willy’s dream. As mentioned earlier, Willy believes that success lies within being well-liked and being popular. Willy said Charley is not very much well-liked and yet as was seen on the play Charley is very much successful as compared to Willy.
One of the main themes of the story is “the American dream”. Based on Willy’s understanding, what constitutes an “American Dream” is being well-liked and being attractive which in turn would result in success. However, his bizarre opinion of what success is like led to his own downfall. This blind belief led tom psychological decline which in turn made him daydream a lot. All throughout the scene there’s a constant drift from past to present which often time confuses the audience on which timeframe the casts of the story is in at the moment.
However, the use of the two timeframes gave Miller an opportunity to compare and to contrast Willy’s dream and reality. The shift of one timeframe to another also allowed Miller to forbid his audience to have a permanent opinion of his characters since it allowed him to show the characters in the story in pathetic and wicked light alike. However, as Willy experienced a psychological decline the boundary between the past and the present are no longer define and thus both existed in a parallel ground.
When Biff informed Willy of his interview with Bill Oliver Willy advised him to demand for a high amount of salary from Oliver claiming that if his son starts big then he would also end big. He also made it a point to impress Oliver with Biff’s personality. This particular scene showed how very unrealistic Willy is. It also contradicted the belief that everyone should start small and work little by little up the corporate ladder since Willy believes that they could all start big since they are a Loman.
Thus, this particular advice of Willy to his son proved to be very contradictory. Also, Willy himself did not follow his own advice with his interview with Howard. Whereas he advised his son to ask Oliver for a large amount, he himself did not do that with his interview. Rather, he begged Howard to station him in New York since he can no longer deal with too much traveling. He even said that he is willing to accept a moderate salary. This also showed a great contradiction with Willy’s advice and his own deed.
In analyzing stage directions made for Happy “Sexuality is like a visible color for him…” we could see that Americans wrote plays which show step by step how a character is supposed to act. It also spells their characters age, characteristic and the like. They are very strict in this manner in that they spell everything out down to the smallest detail. In the play, one could see that Willy is a victim of his society, particularly that of capitalism. This can clearly be shown from his interview with Howard, the son of his boss.
Since he could no longer produce money, Howard fired him out of his job. All throughout the story we can see Willy’s strong hold on his American dream which served him nothing but misery in the end, and now that he is old and no longer productive he had been thrown out of his job. Another significant part on the movie is the fact that the play is set in post World War II New York City, yet Willy’s flashbacks date back to 1928. The reason behind this is that it was in year 1928 that Willy had been able to sell big time and it was also the year that he bought his Chevrolet.
Thus, seeing from this point of view one could clearly justify why most of Willy’s flashbacks happened in that particular year. It was in year 1928 that Willy had been most productive and it may lead him to believe that it is the start of his great career. Biff Loman had been a kleptomaniac on the story. This particular attitude may be attributed to the fact that his father did not tell him that stealing is bad. In one particular act on the play Biff told his father that he stole a football yet Willy did not reprimand his son. Rather he said that as long as Biff is well-liked he would be very successful one day.
His father’s belief flowed into him believing that people would easily forgive him for stealing things as long as he is popular. One of the reasons why Biff had been constantly stealing things is the fact that he wanted to please his family. Most of all Biff wanted to impress his father by showing him that he could get anything he wants at whatever cost. What Charley meant when he said in Willy’s requiem that Willy is a “happy man with a batch of cement” (Miller, Williams, & Paul, 1984) is the fact that Willy had not been doing the things he really want or the things that he is most good at.
Willy is not really cut out to be a businessman to begin with rather he could have been better off had he been a gym owner or a sport’s coach. Willy had also been a man who enjoys doing things with his hands (he loves planting) and thus it makes the audiences wonder on whether Willy had been better off had he chosen a more appropriate career for himself. It also pointed out how Willy had never been true to himself. He did not succeed in any way because he is in constant competition and he had always been after commercial success although he is not really good with that particular thing.
Commercial success overshadowed personal success and happiness which in turn led to a greater tragedy. Everything about Willy had been wrong from the start. He had the wrong beliefs as well as the wrong dream. He loves gardening and he is good with working with his hands thus if he had chosen another path (probably that of farming) then he may have had a better chance with success. The Parent/Child relationship had been present all throughout the play. Miller clearly showed how a parent’s belief and way of rearing up their children could affect their child all throughout their life.
This can be seen clearly with the way Willy passed on his dreams and beliefs to his two sons. Willy’s wrong beliefs had been the primary source why his sons also failed in their lives. In one of the scenes in the play wherein Biff and Willy had been arguing Willy accused his son of ruining his life just to spite him however Biff rebutted him by saying that Willy filled him with hot air which led to his inability of getting any permanent job because he cannot bear taking orders from other people.
I think Biff’s claim is more accurate as compared to his father. Of course, it is true that Biff’s disappointment with his father made him lose interest in pursuing his studies however, the main reason why Biff could not really find a good work for himself is because his father made him believe in wrong beliefs particularly that he is far superior to other people. To conclude, the play had been rather interesting because of its clear way of portraying the effects of capitalism.
It also showed how wrong beliefs particularly that of beliefs regarding American Dream could lead to the distraction of people. The play also portrayed how the parent/child relationship could affect an individual thus all in all the play is exceptional save for the fact that there are times that the play is rather vague because of the constant interplay between past and present. Reference: Miller, A. , Williams, L. M. , & Paul, K. (1984). Death of a Salesman: Barron’s Educational Series.
Characters Analysis in “Death of a Salesman”
‘Death of a Salesman’ is a drama wrote by Arthur Miller that was about man who is a travel salesman. The play that opens by Willy, sixty years old who loses his jobs after he came from trip. He was often thought about life as it was, when personal and communication were the keys to success. William’s brother Ben is the only self-made beneficiary when he makes great fortune at the beginning of his life.
Ben tried to tell and advised his brother Willy, but Willy did not believe him.
Because he was thinking that his charisma and loved could lead to its success. Willy has two growing up sons Biff and Happy whose father taught them how they be successful and important in life. Both they took father advised seriously, but as an adult they are unsuccessful.
Biff has a problem pressing the job and Happy as well, he thought as important as his father. But Willy was realized that he full of remorse and guilt.
Willy believes that he did not taught their sons the mistakes in life because of these problems, they would not be successful. After Biff’s decided to leave, Willy proved that his son life will be worthwhile. But In order to achieve that, the father decided to kill himself. Willy was planning for his life insurance to save the sons and wife. When he kills himself, the life insurance company did not pay the claim because he committed suicide.
Setting: The play is took place at Willy house in Brooklyn the late 1940s, but there are a few senses did not show up in willy house. When he gets hired from his job, and also met his sons in the restaurant. The play was organized to the hopes and desires of the past linked to the present. In the setting, he is showing us the senses of the past, and his illusion that he was unable to distinguish it from real life. The drama is opening when he feels surrounded by the old events.
A traveling salesman who worked for the Wagner’s company. He has been harshly taken out of salary and put on commission, but at the end he was fired form his work.
After Biff’s decided to leave, Willy proved that his son life will be worthwhile. But In order to achieve that, the father decided to kill himself. Willy was planning for his life insurance to save the sons and wife. When he kills himself, the life insurance company did not pay the claim because he committed suicide.
Willy is wife, she was loves her husband willy. She is a mother character in this Drama.
Willy’s eldest son. Biff was a high school star football, but over the past 14 years, he’s been changing his work many times, and Willy hopes was focused on him. Happy Loman Willy’s youngest son works in the store, and he has a flat and car.
Analysis of “Death of a Salesman” opening stage directions
Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ (1949) opens with an extensive description of the Loman house. Miller uses extremely precise and detailed stage directions, including prop placement, sound and lighting, giving heavy significance to each of these elements and painting an unchangeable picture to ensure that it is preserved in every interpretation of his work.
Throughout the opening stage directions of Act 1, despite the structure and tone being very factual, composed of short, clear sentences, Miller hints at underlying themes and messages through a range of stylistic devices, preparing the audience for the play, and setting the scene.
As the play is set in Brooklyn, New York some years after the great depression, many references are made already at this early stage to idealism and the American dream; the desperate and yearning vision of many Americans at that time of a better life.
This permeating theme becomes apparent formerly even to the introduction of the characters, as the mere scenery and props act as symbolic elements, which reflect this motif.
Miller however subliminally makes it evident that this dream is purely an illusion, through emblematic phrases in his stage directions such as ‘rising out of reality’ and physical representations, for instance the broken boundaries where ‘characters enter or leave a room by stepping through a wall onto the forestage’ which create an aura of delusion.
The first stage directions include a melody played on a flute, ‘telling of grass and trees and the horizon’. This natural imagery encompassing three physical elements accompanied by the soft and harmonious sound, sets a serene tone which is then highly juxtaposed with the following depiction of the house and it’s neighborhood, featured with darkness and hostility.
This heavy contrast may be symbolic of the conflict between the dreams to which the individual aspires and the actual harshness of society’s reality. The description of the surrounding cluster of apartment blocks seems almost to have a greater prominence than the house itself, as this is the first thing the audience ‘becomes aware of’. The tall and ‘angular’ silhouette of Manhattan that lies in the backdrop has expressionistic features and surrounds the Loman house in a way that suggests some metaphorical form of oppression or confinement.
The ‘glow of orange’ that falls upon the ‘fragile-seeming’ house is personified as ‘angry’, perhaps reflecting the hostile times in which the play is set. This enclosing and intimidating hostility is in part what makes the home appear so fragile, a fragility that may represent weakness in family bonds or equally, weakness in he who represents the house, condemning him immediately to the role of a tragic protagonist. Willy clings to his dreams just as ‘an air of the dream clings to the place’.
This idea becomes present again in the description of Linda’s feelings towards her husband and his traits. ‘his massive dreams’ are the source of his tragic nature, dreams that he shares with the rest of society, but that for him become an unhealthy obsession. Willy is cursed with the incessant desire to pursue his dreams ‘to their end’ and these words forebode a fate that unfolds as a result of this fixation.
Overall the opening of this play provides the audience with a sense of the themes that will permeate throughout, by cleverly using stage schemes and elements that insinuate profounder significance of what is to come.