Death of a Salesman essay
Death of A Salesman, Miller’s most famous work, addresses the painful conflicts within one family, but it also tackles larger issues regarding American national values. The play examines the cost of blind faith in the American Dream. In this respect, it offers a postwar American reading of personal tragedy in the tradition of Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle. Miller charges America with selling a false myth constructed around a capitalist materialism nurtured by the postwar economy, a materialism that obscured the personal truth and moral vision of the original American Dream described by the country’s founders.
There are many main characters in Death of a Salesman which consist of Willy Lowman, Biff Lowman, Happy Lowman, and Linda Lowman. Despite his desperate search through his past, Willy does not achieve the self-realization or self-knowledge typical of the tragic hero. The quasi-resolution that his suicide offers him represents only a partial discovery of the truth. While he achieves a professional understanding of himself and the fundamental nature of the sales profession, Willy fails to realize his personal failure and betrayal of his soul and family through the meticulously constructed artifice of his life.
Unlike Willy and Happy, Biff feels compelled to seek the truth about himself. While his father and brother are unable to accept the miserable reality of their respective lives, Biff acknowledges his failure and eventually manages to confront it. Happy shares none of the poetry that erupts from Biff and that is buried in Willy, he is the stunted incarnation of Willy’s worst traits and the embodiment of the lie of the happy American Dream. As such, Happy is a difficult character w...
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...eam, claiming that Corporate America drains the life out of people and casts them away when they are no further use. Yet, Willy Loman’s successful neighbor continually offers him a job! Willy Loman declines the job without ever explaining why. He has a chance to pursue a new life, but he won 't let himself give up his old, soured dreams.
Instead of taking the decent paying job, he chooses suicide. At the play’s end, his loyal wife sits at his grave. She does not understand why Willy took his own life. Arthur Miller would claim that the dysfunctional values of American society killed him. However, I believe that Willy Loman suffered from senility. He exhibits many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
This is clearly one of Miller’s best pieces and I absolutely love the way he uses the play and the situations within it to work as a sort of metaphor to get his point across.
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