The Family Dynamic in Death of a Salesman

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The Family Dynamic

Is it possible that the things we say and do are caused by hidden motives? Do subconscious thoughts influence our behavior or determine the way we act? And if so, does this mean that we may not necessarily know what we are doing at certain times? Such questions are important considerations in modern psychology. Psychoanalysis - the science of understanding the mind and how it affects human behavior - provides theoretical insights that attempt to explain why we do the things we do. In psychoanalytic theory, behavior is motivated by many factors, including how the family dynamic affects the individual. Familial relationships are important because every family member assumes a role they are given that affects the family as a whole. As a collective entity, what one person does affects others, for better or worse. This family dynamic is distinctly illustrated in Death of a Salesman. The characters are unaware of certain things about their relationships that contribute to the way they behave. As the audience, these things appear to us as clear as day because we have the perspective of an outside observer. But we are not so different from the Loman’s. We too are blind to certain truths. In real life, we don’t always get the chance to take a step back and realize what is happening around us. We don’t always know what we’re doing and why. The truth is, some of the things we say and do - whether intentional or not - are caused by things we may or may not be consciously aware of, and this in turn affects others. In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is hard working, driven, and ambitious. He spends most of his time and energy trying to improve his life through financial and economic means. Unfortunately, this obsession destroys him! Society damages Willy through the myth of the American Dream, who turns to his children and harms them by extending and even magnifying those same values. “All work and no play” drives him insane. He is



Cited: Jacobs, Henry E., and Edgar V. Roberts. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 8th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Jacobs and Roberts 1508-1568. “Psychological/Psychoanalytic”. Jacobs and Roberts 2025-2026/ “Psychoanalysis.” Online Version 2008. Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Online Version 2008. 6 November 2008 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoanalysis >.

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