Death of a Salesman

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Willy Loman's tragedy in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is partly the result of his being out of place in a business world that has passed him by, but it is mainly the result of the fact that he never had a secure place within his own family. Willy was abandoned by his father and unable to find an adequate replacement in his older brother Ben. The result was that he looked for love in the wider world and failed to do anything that would enable him to find love in his own wife and two sons. Willy believed that all he would need in terms of respect, admiration, and love could be found in the world of business where the men he admired had flourished. But, when events gradually prove to him that this has been an illusion, he turns back to his own family and discovers that he cannot find these things with them either. Willy Loman abandoned his own family--even while being present--in a variation on the abandonment by his own father whose behavior simply seems to have been passed down a generation. Without understanding what he was doing, Willy encouraged his sons to follow the same path in the search for respect and love that ultimately failed him. By the end of his life the only thing he feels he has left to give anyone is his death. The importance of Willy's abandonment by his father, and his lack of a real family life in his youth, is stressed from the very beginning of the play by the sound of the flute.
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