Why "Death of a Salesman" Is Relevant Today

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Janaki Chadha
Mrs. Ciarrocca
AP English 3/ Block C
21 March 2012
Why Death of a Salesman Is Relevant Today
On the surface, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller does not seem to have much relation to modern day high school students. The story of the demise and ultimate death of Willy Loman, a failed salesman in his sixties, does not immediately come across as something high school juniors would be able to relate to. For the most part, it appears to be read as part of English curriculums across the country simply because it is considered an important part of American literature. However, one of the main reasons that this text should be included in Governor Livingston’s curriculum is its relevance to teenagers today. High school students in the modern age are faced with more stress and pressure than any other generation, and live under the constant fear of failure. Death of a Salesman, the story of a man who spends his entire life in this quest for greatness and importance, and eventually fails, hits particularly close to home for many teenagers who fear exactly what Willy Loman faces. Parental and societal expectations, which are evidenced in the play through Biff Loman’s conflicts between his own dreams and his father’s aspirations for him, is also an important part of this play’s relevance to contemporary America, as many students today face the same issue. Though Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman may not have seemed very relatable for most high school students during previous decades, fairly recent changes in lives of American teenagers make this play’s inclusion in Governor Livingston’s English curriculum unquestionable. Though the character of Willy Loman appears to be worlds apart from modern-day high school students, his obsession with success and finding a sense of importance in the world mimics the feelings of many of them. Pressure on high school students, especially in terms of academics, is much higher today than it was during previous years....
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