The Death of a Salesman Essay

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Death of a Salesman Essay
One must know the past to understand the present. In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” the plot is set up in dramatic alternating scenes to demonstrate what happened in the past to explain what is happening in the present. With the use of the plot and characterization, Miller explores the idea that the past is inevitably going to repeat itself when people do not learn from their mistakes.

Although Willy Loman desperately searches for answers in his past, he is unable to fully achieve self-realization of his mistakes. He is unable to except responsibility of his own mistakes and uses his son, Biff, as a scapegoat by continuously blaming Biff of “spiting”. In the restaurant scene, Biff desperately tries to explain to his father that he was unable to get a job with Bill Oliver, but instead of listening, Willy jumps to the conclusion that his son has failed him, triggering himself to remember the day his son found out that he as a father failed his family by having an affair. With the alternating of the past and present, Willy reflects on his own failure, but instead of taking responsibility, he forces the blame upon his son, “Don’t blame everything on me! I didn’t flunk math- you did!”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Happy Loman’s blind ambitions and life of lies is leading him to make the same mistakes as his father. Living in the shadows of his brother, Happy longs for the appreciation of his father and forces himself to believe in the same allusions of success that his father believes in. At the restaurant while Biff tries to tell the truth of what happened with him and Bill Oliver, instead of disappointing his father, Happy lies and provides false hope to his father by telling him, “He told him my Florida idea.” With his father’s suicide later in the story, Happy swears to avenge his death by picking up where he left off, unable to acknowledge that his father lived a life of lies, failure, and mistakes only leading...
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