“The Thematic Structure in Death of a Salesman.” Readings on Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven Press Inc., 1999. Porter, Thomas E. “Willy Loman and the American Dream.” Readings on Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999.
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman tells the story of a man trying and failing to obtain success for him and his family. Willy Loman, a traveling salesman, has been trying to ‘make it big’ for the majority of his life. Miller’s play explores the themes of abandonment and betrayal and their effects on life’s success. Willy sees himself as being abandoned by his older brother, Ben, and constantly views his sibling’s betrayal as one that changed his prospects forever. Willy, in turn, is guilty of a different type of abandonment and betrayal of his sons, especially Biff.
Web. 1 Feb. 2014. Ribkoff, Fred. "CRITICAL READINGS: Shame, Guilt, Empathy, And The Search For Identity In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman." Critical Insights: Death Of A Salesman (2010): 183-192.
Willy is a very insecure, delusional, and misguided individual who whole-heartily believes the various lies and stunted interpretation he has based his life on; he believes that in order to be successful, one must be popular and attractive. Willy and his family are put at a disadvantage because throughout their lives “they continue to believe that the greater world will embrace them, will proclaim them, simply because they are superficially charming, are occasionally witty, and can bluster and brag with the best of them” (Thompson). Willy continues to look up to individuals that are very successful. Dave Singleman, and Willy’s brother are two characters in the play that Willy looks up to because of their hard-earned success. However, Willy helps the audience have an insight to the corrupted view of the American dream that is based on materialism, popularity, likability, and attractiveness.
Biff, on the other hand, had it worse because his father sold him lies about his importance in the business industry, which forced Biff to admire Willy and strive to be like him one day. Willy’s consistent stroking of Biff’s ego misled Biff into thinking that he could get away with anything simply because he was “popular” and “well-liked”. However, when Biff accidentally stumbles upon his father’s adultery, his world crashes in on itself as he loses his sense of identity. He quotes, “I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been” (Act II). Willy wasn’t much better with his “friends”.
Willy entirely disregards Bernard and only cares about Bi... ... middle of paper ... ...grasp the truth of his unaccomplished life and his failure as a father and a husband and a successful man. Willy throughout the course of the play, daydream he is conversing with his successful brother Ben. Willy memories of Ben, are a constant reminder of how he falls short of his American Dream. Consequently the real tragedy wasn’t Willy failing to achieve the American dream, but rather his American Dream ignores the love of his family. It’s quite ironic that Willy literally kills himself for money at the end of the play.
This turns sour however, after Biff discovers the father he idolizes was not all he had thought him to be. Afterward, familial dynamics are never the same, as Willy continues to hope that Biff will succeed, ignorant- perhaps purposely so- that his son is failing out of spite, knowing that all his father’s hopes are resting on his shoulders. Willy’s relationships with his two sons are tentative at best, but Happy and Biff are partly to blame for this downhill spiral- as their relationship is just as complex. In the play, “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman remembers scenes from years previous, particularly idyllic times when his two sons were still young and full of promise. Willy’s memories focus on Biff: Biff’s chances at success, Biff’s talents, Biff’s popularity.
Empathy, Hubris , and Willy Loman’s tragic flow all lead him to his death that distend for him the beginning. He is unable to face reality and realize that he’s not successful in life or at his job; he remains living in a world where he thinks he’s greater than everybody else because he’s a sales man. He desires recognition in the play and when he’s conversing with Howard and talks about his admiration toward Dave Singleman, he states “And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people?.” (SparkNotes) He thought a salesman could get him the greatest job in the world because Dave Singleman ... ... middle of paper ... ...ke mistakes. He gained the most important thing , his family’s respect.
The dramatic play Death of a Salesman, composed by Arthur Miller in 1949 portrays the hours leading up to Willy Loman’s death. Willy is a sixty-year-old salesman living in Brooklyn New York with his wife Linda and after thirty-five years working as a traveling salesman he feels defeated by his lack of success and difficult family life. As a salesman, Willy Loman focuses more on personality and being well liked by everyone than actual skills. When he returns early from a business trip it is apparent that he is extremely distressed and confides that he almost got into an accident. All thought the play we get to witness Willy’s brain unravel and his tragic character flaws that all seem to stem from being abandoned by his father and brother.
The real problem lies at work itself. It appears that despite all of Willy’s bragging, he is not actually a very successful salesman (the lack of people at his funeral perhaps indicates not only that he isn’t one, but also that he never was a particularly good one in the first place). He has in fact been ‘borrowing’ money from Charley to make Linda think that he is still successful. Willy lies so often about his work (as well as other things), that he has almost made himself believe his own lies, and one of the only indications to the contrary is... ... middle of paper ... ...acter in the play inspires several different sentiments, including Linda who despite being loyal is too subservient for her own good, and Biff, who despite the fact that he is honest and has good intentions, is too direct to help matters very much. Works Cited Eisinger, Chester E. "Focus on Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman': The Wrong Dreams," in American Dreams, American Nightmares, (1970 rpt In clc.