Analysis Of Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

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In a classic moment of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, we find Willy Loman and his two sons wondering about the fate of the people of New York, and themselves. In this moment, one of the most heart-rending and emotional lines of the play is generated, by Biff, the son of Willy, about a third, unimportant character. Biff says: “He’s liked, but he’s not well liked.”1 This is used throughout the rest of the play to demonstrate importance or a sense of worth, but it is never more intense and touching as when Biff says it here. It sets the tone for the rest of the play, especially for the life of Willy Loman, who was always liked, but not necessarily well liked. This is the tragic nature of the play. The American dream is never fully realized…show more content…
It becomes clear to the viewer of the play that Willy is lying about his sales record and his time spent on the road. In his essay entitled “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman,” Merrit Mosely explores the character of Willy Loman the salesman: “Everybody revises the past, and Willy, especially, is a dishonest man in his ordinary interactions. Even in his own reveries, we see him lying to his wife and sons. In real time, he edits and revises reality.”2 One of the most important things we can use to determine if Willy’s perspective is accurate is how he sees things in relation to others. With Howard, it is clear that Willy’s perspective is off. He wishes to act like the big shot, so he does, even though he isn’t truly able to in terms of wealth. With his children, Willy sees himself as a perfect dad, and his children as simply ungrateful. As we learn later in the play, this is not completely the case. Willy is certainly not a perfect father, but he is not the worst…show more content…
Death of a Salesman is an extraordinary play in which there is no real hero and no real devil. Willy serves as both the tragic hero and the sad martyr – but not as a pathetic person. Instead, he is the realization of years of hard work, years of dedication, and years of dull solitude in American life. As such, he has built so many things in his mind, so many years of expectations and so many decades of disappointment. There is no version of Willy Loman which is truly real, and no version of Willy Loman which will ever truly be free of the shame and trappings of the life he has tried to build for himself. For Arthur Miller, Willy Loman’s death, the death of the salesman, is the tragic death of all who believe. It is the death of the American dream and the death of the perfect life we all wish to achieve. The American dream is no longer what we make of it; instead, it is what it makes of
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