Discussion on the Choice of Genre

Topics: Death of a Salesman, Marriage, American Dream Pages: 7 (2792 words) Published: May 15, 2011
Discuss the choice of genre; comedy or tragedy?
In this assignment I will discuss the choice of genre; comedy or tragedy? In the play Death of a Salesman (2000) by Arthur Miller and the movie east is east (1999) by Ayub Khan-Din. I will suggest Willy Loman within the play Death of a Salesman (2000) actually is the architect of his own failure. I will put forward Loman’s ideal of the American Dream and show while he strived to achieve this goal, this ultimately proved to be the cause of his demise. While this play shows the audience that Willy is not a failure, his refusal to accept reality only helps to add to the tragedy of Death of a Salesman (2000). On the other hand east is east (1999) has elements of tragedy, but ultimately the genre is comedy. I will demonstrate how the use of humour helps to vanquish the tragic elements of the film and along with George Khan, a prominent character for most of the movie and I will show the audience is encouraged to laugh with him. Terwin (1949, cited in Page, 2003,) described Willy Lowman as “the little salesman with a pathetic belief in his worthless son.” Willy Lowman could be viewed as a father trying to give his son who has lost his way in life some direction by assisting to get “him a job in selling” (Miller, 2000, 1.11). However, Willy Lowman could be seen as a man having failed to achieve his own ambition who decides to superimpose his pipe dreams upon his son Biff. Willy believes; if Biff applies himself as a salesman he “could be big in no time” (Miller, 2000,1.11), Willy measures success in monitory terms and believes it is easily achievable to the deserved and to achieve this you have to “be well liked and you would never want” (Miller,2000, 1.26). Unfortunately reality does not support Willy’s philosophy on achievement. The tragedy is in fact that Willy has locked himself into a belief system which forces him to work harder and harder for thirty eight years in order to feed his conviction that the achievement of financial freedom is possible. Willy prefers to deny real life which undermines his thinking, thus causing him to withdraw into a fantasy world as a coping mechanism to help preserve his fantasy. The corner stone in which Willy’s success formula is built upon is the American Dream, a cultural belief which defines success as an inheritance just laying in wait to be claimed similar to King Arthur’s sword in the stone. Therefore, confirming to America’s reputation as the land of opportunity. Guaranteeing that every little boy will grow up to become the director of his own company, “that’s the wonder of this country, that a man can end with diamonds on the basis of being liked” (Miller, 2000, 1.33). Willy Loman’s personal circumstances are the proof that the American Dream is a mirage. That financial independence is not guaranteed on the basis that you are hard working or even well liked. For Willy Loman, the real tragedy is; not that the American Dream is a big lie, but the realisation that his failed ambition is actually Willy’s own fault. For Willy Loman, the thought that he has failed to realise what he believes his true fate is, therefore is, too much for him to bear. The reality is so frightening to him; he would rather kill himself than face the actuality of his failure. Yet, Willy believes his death would help to facilitate his family to achieve the dream with the money from his insurance policy. Further tragedy for the life of Willy Loman is; the fantasy which is so alluring, there appears to be no alternative for him, thus blinding him to the true successes in life. Whilst Willy finally has the “last payment to pay on the mortgage” (Miller, 2000, 2.57) he continues to fail to see that this is an accomplishment. He furthermore, cannot see the value of his loving and supporting wife who turns a blind eye to the fact that her husband borrows money and “pretend that it is his pay” (Miller,2000, 1.45) Willy does this in order to protect his sense of self...
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