The Crime Of Vanity in Arthur Miller´s Death of a Salesman

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There has been much discussion of Arthur Miller’s play Death Of A Salesman, in subsequent years since its release, arguing different perspectives of many aspects of the play. In B.S. Field Jr.’s article “Hamartia in Death of Salesman”, he puts forth his views detailing why he feels Willy Loman is adequately and justly punished for his many crimes against his family. By highlighting literary evidence, Field is able to detail a strong argument against Willy as an amoral human. Although Willy is justly punished for his crimes, Field fails to go into the depth of Willy’s crimes. The extent of Willy Loman’s corruption makes his crimes far more severe, for he has left his family in shambles and to continue to be his future conduits. Willy Loman’s addiction to his own delusions have made him curse his sons to the same amoral mind frame that he had put on himself, and continues to use against his wife, while still feeling convinced he is a well liked person that deserves to be treated better than he treats others.
Willy Loman receives a deserving punishment for many reasons, but the lesson he leaves behind to his sons is one of the most everlasting to his family. Field in his article claims “what he has taught them does not look to him like what he had wanted them to learn” (21), but Willy’s failure is that Biff and Happy have learned exactly what he has taught them their whole lives. Much of the conflict stems from their similarities rather than their differences. Much of the contradictory nature of Willy’s own thoughts are the same as that of Biff’s. For instance when Biff catches Willy with another woman, he is furious with his father shouting, “You fake! You phony little fake!”(2. 745), but even though Biff is angry with his father h...

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... funeral is barely even attended. Willy’s attempts to be well liked have left him just a forgotten salesman. When Field’s says the city is killing him, he forgets that Willy has done all of this to himself, not just the crime but also the punishment.
In conclusion, B.S. Field Jr.’s analysis is an interesting take on Willy Loman’s affect on his sons, as a crime requiring punishment, but it does not go far enough to see all the implications of his crime or depth of his crime. Not only has he corrupted both his sons, he has only gifted suffering to his wife all in a vain attempt to be a successful well liked man who is treated better than others, without earning their respect. Due to everything his family has went through over the years, Willy Loman’s crime will extend past his life through his children who share his defects and through the pain his wife can’t escape.
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