Critical Response: Death of a Salesman
The lives of the Loman’s from beginning to end seems troubling, the play is centered on trying to be successful or trying to be happy, and the sacrifice which must be made of one to achieve the other. The environment that these characters live in encourages them to pursue the American dream, which can be said to devalue happiness through the pursuit of material success. Death of A Salesman written by Arthur Miller has several themes that run through the play, one of the most obvious is the constant striving for success. Willy Loman put his family through endless torture because of his search for a successful life. Willy, Biff, and Happy are chasing the American dream instead of examining themselves to find what will make themselves happy.
Throughout his play, Miller seems to criticize the idea of compromising happiness for success, although Willy truly believes happiness is achieved through success. Though Willy spends all of his adult life working for a sales company, this company releases the salesman when he proves to be unprofitable. Willy confronts Howard, his boss when he charges, "You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away-a man is not a piece of fruit." Here, Willy feels that Howard has gone back on his father's word by forgetting him in his golden years, throwing away the peel after eating the orange, so to speak. Thus, Willy is unable to cope with the changing times and the unfeeling business machine that is New York at this time. Though Willy believes that he and his sons are great men, his flawed character ruins his idealist vision of success and happiness.
Willy believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the American Dream, that a, “well liked” and, “personally attractive” man in business will absolutely acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. Those Material comforts are to Willy his key to achieving happiness and he will go to any length to pursue this....
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