Death of a Salesman Conflicts and Themes Critical Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

The play ‘Death of a Salesman’ has many themes and conflicts. This essay will briefly discuss the main ideas and conflicts depicted in the play.

The Theme of Confusion

This is a theme that Miller exploited so well. There is confusion all over the play; the main characters are engulfed in turmoil. It is not hard to point out the kind of awful mess that the Lomans are in. Willy is entirely unable to differentiate reality from illusion. Will is so disillusioned that he believes that he and his sons have everything to propel them to success. Willy and his sons in a real sense do not have anything that can enable them to be successful.

It is a significant confusion that Willy has thought that for one to be successful, he has to be well-liked by people. Willy quite often falls back to thinking about circumstances which occurred in the past. At the end Willy is seen more confused than ever; he claims that a person can be “worth more dead than alive” (Miller 2007, p. 77).

Death of a Dream

Willy had a vast dream of living the American life. He looked up to Ben as his model and wished he could live his way of life, “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” (Miller 2007, p. 32). Willy wanted his sons to be successful and live largely.

Willy used a wrong approach in trying to achieve the American dream. He wished more than he worked and as a result could not reach his goals. He is also seen using some facts in the wrong way, for example, he claims that if people like you well then you are going to successful; people liking can be used tactfully, but we do not see Willy doing that.

Conflicts in the Story

The death of a salesman is full of conflicts which are evident all over the play. Willy is living a conflicting lifestyle. He has a deep desire for recognition and profoundly wants to live as a successful businessman with a lot of money which is hard to achieve because he does not have the cash to sustain such a lifestyle.

His life generally is a significant conflict to that of his brother Ben who is rich. Willy and his sons more often than not are in conflicts. Willy wants them to adapt to his way of thinking, but his sons are not of his opinions. I view it as a significant conflict that Biff after realizing the mistakes committed by Willy he went ahead to declare that:

I’m gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. 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. (Miller 2007, p. 131)

It is evident that instead of learning from the mistakes of his father Biff instead chooses the very same path that his father walked. Most likely Biff will end up failing contrary to what his father wanted him to be – a successful man.


Miller, A. (2007). Death of a Salesman. India: Pearson Education.

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