Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

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Dangerous Ground of Illusion
Relations between fathers and the younger generation have been and continue to be an important theme for various literary genres (King Lear, Shakespeare; Fathers and Sons, Turgenev). For many famous writers the significance of fathers' influence on their children forms a subject of particular interest. . In the play, Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller shows in a very striking manner that the father's influence can be either positive or fatal. The dispiriting story of the three generations of the Lomans family contrasts with the happy account of the life of their neighbors, Charley and his son Bernard. The author details father-and-son relations in the Lomans family over a long period of time. He effortlessly demonstrates that a younger generation both inherits the father's way of life and assimilates his best or worst features. He tells us almost nothing about Willy Loman's, the main character's, father. All we know is that he played a flute. Also he was a handy man, because he invented a gadget to make flutes. He was making and selling flutes, traveling across the country in a wagon. He took his family with him wherever he went. When Willy was about four years old, his father went to Alaska seeking to earn a fortune and disappeared amidst Alaska's expanses. Though the period when his sons Ben and Willy were with him was short, it left an indelible impression on the boys' memory. Later, each of them inherited a part of this way of life: the older son Ben got a passion for adventure and travel, and the younger son Willy got a profession of salesmen and an interest to work with wood. Though the father's influence was quite indirect; he mostly figured in their afterglow and rather idealistic fancies, both of them became decent and hard-working people. At the age of seventeen, Ben left his home for Alaska, but soon found himself in Africa and at twenty-one he was already rich. He spent the rest of his life in Africa where he died. He...
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