The Power of Irony in "The Death of a Salesman"

Topics: Irony, Meaning of life, Suicide Pages: 5 (1787 words) Published: April 25, 2013
Renata Lemos
English 102
Professor: Jeff Ousborne

The Power of Irony on “The Death of a Salesman”

Authors use irony in literature in order to give double meanings and make it more interesting to the reader. In the play “ The Death of a Salesman” Arthur Miller uses irony as a strong writing technique in order to express the character's behavior. In “The Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller moments of situational and dramatic irony helps to illustrate the story's theme in which Willy is a man trying yo achieve the American dream, however he have created a world of illusion.

Dramatic irony occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play. Willy thinks that being well liked will get you places and his whole life is based on that, yet he is not well liked. This is an example of dramatic irony. Willy is lying to himself as if being well liked is the most important aspect in order to be successful. However, he even admits that he is not well liked to Linda at one point. When Willy says to Linda, “ I'm fat. I'm very – foolish to look at, Linda. I didn't tell you, but Chist,as time I happened to be calling on F.H. Stewarts, and a salesman I know, as I was going in to see the buyer I heard him say something about – walrus. And I – I cracked him right across the face. I won't take that. I simply will not take that. But they do laugh at me. I know that”(1415). This specific quote shows that although Willy cares about his aparence he is still insulted by others. He is basing his life in a fact that is a illusion to him.

The fact that Willy goes out into his back garden and plants a packet of seeds on the night he is to commit suicide, demonstrating one more example of dramatic irony. When we think about seeds we think about planting new life. However Willy would take his on life later in the play. when Willy, on the night he is to commit suicide,—are never so subtle that the reader is in any danger of missing them. “Literature,” I remember thinking, “I could get the hang of this.” Seeds and planting have the of meaning 'life', its ironic for the readers because it is not related to what is about to happen next on the play. Willy suicide is the opposite of what the seeds mean.

Willy is a man immersed in the memories of the past and controlled by his fears of the future. Willy Loman's act of suicide is an example of situational irony. Willy thought that it would be an way of showing Biff that he loves him, however if he just knew that his acceptance and understanding would have benefited his son more than any insurance policy ever could. Willy believed that his death would be better for his family, as they would collect his life insurance and have financial gain. However, the family does not collect the money because Willy's insurance policy does not cover death by suicide. If Willy had loved his sons and showed them how import they were to him not just based on their professional situation or success, he might not have felt like a failure himself, because if nothing else, he would have been a success as a father.

Another example of dramatic irony in the play is the fact that Willy thinks of himself as a successful salesman: “They laugh at me, heh? Go to Filene's, go to the Hub , go to Slattery's, Boston. Call out the name Willy Loman and see what happens! Big Shot!”(1427). In this quote readers are able to see how blind Willy was. Readers know that it is all an illusion and that he is not well known, however Willy still keeps lying to himself and likes to picture himself as someone that he is not.

When Willy goes intending to get a better job, however he actually ends up losing his job. This is another example of situational irony. When Willy says, “ I tell ya, Howard. The kids are all grown swing it” (pag 1435). This quote shows when Willy went to talk to Howerver in order to settle down and get a job in New York, however he was not able...
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