“He Had the Wrong Dreams. All, All Wrong.” Discuss in Relation to Willy Loman in ‘Death of a Salesman’.

Topics: Death of a Salesman, Drama, Tragedy Pages: 3 (1300 words) Published: July 7, 2011
The play Death of a Salesman is a modern tragedy by Arthur Miller. Written in 1949, the play is an authentic and realistic portrayal of family in the middle of the twentieth century, but it's also a symbolic and expressionistic drama. Miller has a reputation for dealing with moral issues in his plays; ‘All the plays that I was trying to write were plays that would grab an audience by the throat and not release them, rather than presenting an emotion which you could observe and walk away.’ Arthur Miller. The play is set in 1940’s America subsequent to The Great Depression, communally, many citizens of this era believed in the ‘American Dream’ , which traditionally meant opportunity and freedom for all. Willy Loman was a firm believer in this; he also believed that success was achievable according to how well liked you are as opposed to ability or determination. Hence; “He had the wrong dreams. All, all Wrong.” I will be considering Loman’s dreams to see if they are in fact all wrong? The play is considered a tragedy -with Willy Loman, the protagonist. Though it has been argued whether or not the play is a tragedy as; according to Aristotle a tragedy should have a protagonist of high birth, wealth or power, and salesman Willy Loman is none of these. I think that Miller uses an ordinary man like Willy to enable the audience to easily relate and sympathise with his character. However the play does possess typical tragic elements because the protagonist should lead to his/her own downfall, as Willy Loman does. While standing at his father’s grave Biff Loman, Willy’s son, states “He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong.” This statement indicates that Willy lead to his own demise because he had the wrong idea of life, dreams that resulted in his death. This is another of Aristotle’s tragic conventions; that the protagonist should lead to their own downfall; this is unquestionably applicable to Death of a Salesman. The play is a modern tragedy, where ‘ordinary’ people...
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