Death of a Salesman & American Beauty

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Death of a Salesman & American Beauty

By | May 2013
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“In order to achieve personal fulfilment sacrifices have to be made.” How have the contexts of the composers of “Death of a Salesman” and “American Beauty” shaped their representations of sacrifice? Personal fulfilment must be achieved through sacrifices, however sacrifices do not always promise the achievement of a dream. Personal fulfilment is a desire, often thought of a better life, and these cannot be achieved unless certain things are given up. These sacrifices are compared to what you have, and what you will get. Representations of different sacrifices morally or physically have been shaped to the context they are given. In “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller and “American Beauty” by Sam Mendes both composers shape their understanding of sacrifice according to the context they have written in. Differing sacrifices are made to achieve personal fulfilment in the contexts they are given. “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller was set in the Depression of the 1930’s where America had no money and salesmen were the economic growth of American life. The American Dream was heavily desired, to have wealth and academic achievement thus creating reputation and respect was every man’s dream and Willy Loman was no exception. To be successful salesman and to achieve this dream, Willy sacrifices his dignity and pride for a job. He repeatedly lowers his standards to just be successful and have money to support his family. “Sixty-five dollars a week”, “all I need… is fifty dollars a week” and finally “If I had forty dollars a week – that’s all I need.” is spoken to Willy’s employer Howard Wagner. Howard is however, more interested in a new “toy” that he has, the recording machine which frightens Willy, portraying the old man being left behind as society moves ahead. In “American Beauty” directed by Sam Mendes, Lester Burnham also aspires to achieve the American Dream. The film was set in the 1990’s and at that time America was in a much better economic state than the...
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