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Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman: Review

By D13567 Feb 09, 2012 1028 Words
Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” is a tragic play that reflects on dreams of ordinary American citizens in post-war era. After the Second World War, United States economy was on the rise; therefore many people received an opportunity to achieve the “American Dream”. During this time, Arthur Miller wrote his play where he provided an example of an ambiguous middle class man and his collapse. By doing so, he broke the rules of the tragic play writing. The rules were set by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, which were to construct the plot that is based on the powerful people and their further downfall. The main character, Willey Loman spends all his life hunting down his life dream. His life goal is to be successful, well-liked salesman. However, in pursue of his dream, Willey reached insanity which lead to his suicide due to his over ambitious targets. Death of a salesman is a satire on human ambitious and human failures that are tied together with family collapse and betrayal and disappointment of the surrounding world. In this essay I would like to focus on the passage from the begging of the play. It demonstrates Willey’s first major flashback where it becomes progressively clear that the salesman losing his mind (pagessss). This is the cornerstone that leads towards the death of Willey. In the soliloquy, Willy starts as a successful person in his own eyes and his family. He claims that soon he will have his own business and he never will have to leave home. Willy has a dream to become well- liked and respected person, it is very important for him that he is on the right track towards his goal. He shapes the details of his dream as a fact in conversation with his children “Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not – liked. [...] he is not well-liked” (Miller 23). The respect given by other people is very significant for Willey, he craves it. Arthur Miller underlines it: “[...] and I went north to Providence. Met the Mayor. [...] And then he had coffee with me” (23). The author draws a picture of a person that is on top of the waive crest. One who will enter the world of the high class very soon. This is the joyful time for Willey, he feels that the good life, which he imagined is about to happen. He is about to open up his own business “[...] Tell you a secret, boys. [...] I’ll have my own business”. (23) This soliloquy catches attention of the audience by underlying Willey’s ambitious plans towards his life success. Miller creates illusion of Willey’s accomplishments and by doing so; he makes us think about one of the many themes of the play, ambitious and failures. It is clear that Willey suffered failure just by looking at the fact of having this flashback. In the same flashback Willey brags about his commission that he believes he made during his trip. He tells Linda proudly “I did five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston” (27). Willey imagines his success and he delivers such feelings to his family in a white lie. He is obsessed with the success that he imagines that he does not realize that he bluffs to his wife about his commissions. When Linda calculates his pay, Willey realized that he just lied to his wife; therefore, he awakes from his dream to tell her the real commission that he gained. Willey makes excuses to cover up his white lie. In this part of the play, main character presented to the audience in a miserable way. His dreams and ambitious started to eat him alive at the time of his potential success. Willey’s “American Dream” concluded in being a salesman. However, his business skills are not developed well enough for such job. This is the tragic satire that Miller employed to explain that human ambitious are traitorous. Willey wants to be a white color professional even thought he does not have required abilities. This play was needed at that time because American society during the economic boom was sure that selling is the key to successful life. Willey Loman slowly recognizes his life failure as he faces several setbacks; therefore, he gets into conflicting relationship with his favourite son Biff. In the back of his mind he understands the main reason for the conflict with Biff, which is the failure to help his son in the difficult moment at school when Biff did not participate in the football match. At that time Willey was with another woman in the hotel room. This is the breaking point of the relationship between the father and the son. Due to Willey’s personality he believes that the problem lies in Biff and his bad work habits. He mentions to Linda that Biff is “a lazy bum” and it is impossible to get lost in the greatest country in the world (11). Willey constantly pushes Biff to get into business and wishes that he will attain the dream at which he has failed. Willey’s ambitious lead towards his insanity, betrayal of his family, and disgust towards his little world. In this tragic play Arthur Miller offers readers his view on the tragic play writing in which he employs symbolism, irony and human ambitious to get full readers attention. Miller uses flashbacks to demonstrate Willey’s mental illness as it enhances the writer’s message. He wrote this play to get the attention of the American society towards the problem it faces such as human ambitions to succeed in the business. He created Willey Loman the true tragic hero, who comes from the middle class of United States in order to draw attention of ordinary Americans. Miller criticizes material wealth, the lack of American family values, and the lack of mutual responsibility between people. “Death of a Salesman” is great play written by a master of this genre. I think it is one of the most realistic plays I have ever read and it every reader can learn something and hopefully change something in the life.

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