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Comparing Death of A Salesman and The Zoo Story

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Death of A Salesman and The Zoo Story

Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman , is considered a to be one of the great masterpieces of American Literature. Comparatively, Edward Albee's, The Zoo Story, is also an incredible work of art. Miller and Albee both depict a the struggles of man in relationships. Interestingly, both plays seem to parallel each other throughout both works of literature.

The Death of a Salesman tells a story of a distressed father, named Willy who struggles with his tenous relationship with his son, Biff. Willy's personal failures have led him to try an live vicariously through his son Biff. Willy Loman is an elderly salesmen lost in false hopes and illusions. The sales firm that he worked for no longer paid him salary. Working on straight commission, Willy could not bring home enough money to pay his bills. After many years with the firm, he was no a commodity to the company. They have spent his energy and discarded him like an old pair of shoes. Willy's sons, Biff and Hap, are both failures, however Willy refuses to come to terms with this bleak reality. He wants his sons, especially Biff, to succeed where he has not. He believes his boys are great and cannot understand why they are not successful. This is a major source of conflict throughout the play. As Willy has grown older, he has trouble distinguishing between the past and present, between illusion and reality, and is often lost in flashbacks where much of the story is told. These flashbacks are generally during the summer after Biff's senior year of high school when all of the family problems began. Willy has had an affair with a women he meets on sales trips and once caught by Biff. Now, Biff does not respect Willy and they do not get along. Willy eventually commits suicide so that Biff can have the insurance money to become successful. Ben is Willy's dead brother who appears to Willy during his flashbacks and times of trouble. Ben was a rich man who made it big in the diamond mines of Africa. Willy once was given the chance to become partners with Ben, but refused and instead choose the life that he currently lives.
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