Midterm Essay Question 4
The True Criminal
Being a salesman has always carried a negative stigma since the early 1900s. Being seen as pushy, high pressure, deceitful people; the dreaded activity of purchasing some car or new appliance has haunted everyone at some point or another. Many words have come to describe salesman such as “sharks”, “cons”, “thieves” etc., and these words have stuck with the profession throughout the century. Two very realistic depictions of such phonies can be seen in Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller and Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. They depict the styles of two salesmen who have very similar selling techniques, but at the same time can be contrastingly different.
Willy Loman, the protagonist of Death of a Salesman, is often regarded as a tragic figure with whom the audience feels sympathetic. At the same time, his deceitful, dishonest, adulterous ways are despised. In addition to this, his over confident attitude seems supercilious and creates more of a disdain for the character as can be seen when he says “Goddammit, I could sell them!” (Miller 1071). The same can be said as Mamet’s character, Shelly Levene, starts declaring how great of a seller he was. Basking in his own light he boldly exclaims that his success as a salesman is due not to his luck but his skill”( Mamet 1419). Both characters often times talk about how back in the day they were great assets of the company “averaging a hundred and seventy dollars a week in commissions” (p.1089) and “Cold calling. Nothing. Sixty-five, when we were there…” (Mamet 1419). Both characters meet their tragic ends as they realize that their deceitful and deceptive nature, the façade of great selling they lived behind, is a shattered reality. All both of them want is a chance and to live like they did in the old days and both are denied the chance.
While their characters mimic each other, the selling techniques of these two...