Published in 1949, Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman is a post Second World War American drama that highlights the plight of isolation and desolation experienced by the common man, as symbolized by Willy. The play deals with the society, life’s absurdity, various internal and external conflicts, death and above all, the tragedy of existence. It is located in the industrial society of the twentieth century where the pressure to succeed and the financial difficulties seem insurmountable. The play depicts America as the land of opportunity as well as a place where the society has acquired a new set of values that threatens to destroy those who cannot abide by new changes. This paper discusses the importance of self-image in the Loman family and how the conceptions of self-image fuel the destruction of the characters.
To begin with, the plot structure of the play does not follow a logical sense of development; rather the progression has an aesthetic appeal, which is similar to the concept of the “stream of consciousness” as propounded by Virginia Woolf. The main protagonist, Willy, is shown in a state of mind where time does not exist and his memories come in the ebb and flow of consciousness. The perception of facts, life, ideas, hopes, dreams and ambitions are shown personified in its characters whose maturity and immaturity determine the course of their lives. The protagonist is a deranged and disillusioned character who cannot come into terms with his life’s failures, compounded with the unstable life of his sons, Biff and Happy.
This is a play which shows how the self perception of a character not only develops misleading self image in the mind of the character but influences how other characters perceive them. First...
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...r the protagonist, his self image leads him to suicide. Willy Loman is neither a king nor a pauper, he is a common man who wanted to lead a life of self respect and own adequate material comforts for himself and his family. The Death of a Salesman is a tragic story.
Bloom, Harold. Arthur Miller. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003. Print.
Foster, Richard J. Confusion and Tragedy: The Failure of Miller's 'Salesman'. Detroit: Gale Research, 1983. Print.
Gordon, Lois. “Death of a Salesman": An Appreciation, in the Forties. Detroit: Gale Research, 1983. Print.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. Print.
Murphy, Brenda. Miller: Death of a Salesman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.
Terkel, Studs. American Dreams Lost and Found. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980. Print.
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