Reality and Illusion in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman Essay

Reality and Illusion in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman Essay

Length: 1076 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Reality and Illusion in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman


In Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, a major theme and source of conflict is the Loman family’s inability to distinguish between reality and illusion.  This is particularly evident in the father, Willy Loman.  Willy has created a fantasy world of himself and his family.  In this world, he and his sons are men of greatness that “have what it takes” to make it in the business environment.  In reality, none of them can achieve this greatness until they confront and deal with this illusion.

            Willy is convinced that being well liked is the key to success, exclaiming “Be liked and you will never want...”  (Klotz, A 1998).  It is unclear whether Willy’s “flashbacks” of past business relationships are remembering when he was once well liked or simply imagining he was.  However, simply the fact that it is no longer true reflects upon his inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy.  This eventually brings about Willy’s death.  He has imagined that he is worth more dead than alive and the insurance money from his death will be the catalyst for Biff’s success.

            Willy has also blinded himself regarding the success, or lack of success, of his sons.  He believes Hap to be an “assistant to the director” at his job, but Hap’s position is barely influential, if at all.  He has elevated Biff’s past employment experience with Oliver to that of a leading salesman, when in reality he was simply a shipping clerk.

            Another significant theme that occurs throughout the play is that it is ok to be dishonest when it suits their purposes.  Willy continues to send his sons mixed signals on this issue.  This began with Willy finding ...


... middle of paper ...


...he old stockings.

            The woods and jungle constantly referred to by Willy and Ben seem to represent the struggle of life.  The “diamond” in the jungle is the reward at the end of the struggle, which would be the materialistic success for which Willy is constantly striving.  However, Linda makes the last house payment on the day Willy’s funeral, which represents the futility of that struggle.  Willy’s final act of suicide is symbolic as well but it is not known whether his suicide is an act of cowardice or a last sacrifice on the altar of the American dream.

References

Klotz, A. , with Richardson.   Arthur Miller “Death of a Salesman”.  Literature, seventh.  St. Martin’s Press.  (1998).  pp. 746 - 822.

Klotz, A. , with Richardson.  (1998).  W. H. Auden “The Unknown Citizen”.  Literature, seventh.  St. Martin’s Press.  pp. 448 - 449.

 

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Illusion and Reality in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

- Illusion and Reality in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman     In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy is depicted as living in his own world. The play centers around the end of Willy’s life, when the real world comes crashing through, ruining the false reality he had created for himself and his family. Throughout the play, Willy Loman uses the concept of being well liked to build a false image of reality, as shown through his teachings to his son, what he considers successful, and his reasoning for committing suicide....   [tags: Death Salesman essays]

Strong Essays
796 words (2.3 pages)

Reality and Illusion in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman Essay

- Reality and Illusion in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman In Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, a major theme and source of conflict is the Loman family’s inability to distinguish between reality and illusion.  This is particularly evident in the father, Willy Loman.  Willy has created a fantasy world of himself and his family.  In this world, he and his sons are men of greatness that “have what it takes” to make it in the business environment.  In reality, none of them can achieve this greatness until they confront and deal with this illusion....   [tags: Death Salesman essays]

Strong Essays
1076 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on The Confusion Between Illusion and Reality in Death of a Salesman

- The line between reality and illusion is often blurred in Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman. Whether it is incorporated in the content or the actual structure, this struggle between recognizing reality from illusion turns into a strong theme; it eventually leads to the downfall of Willy and his family. Willy is incapable of recognizing who he is, and cannot realize that he, as well as his sons, is not capable of being successful in the business world. Happy and Biff both go through some battle between reality and illusion that cause a collapse in some part of their lives....   [tags: Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
1275 words (3.6 pages)

Reality and Illusion in Death of a Salesman Essay

- Reality and Illusion in Death of a Salesman In Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, the major theme as well as the main source of conflict is Willy's inability to distinguish between reality and illusion. Willy has created a fantasy world for himself and his family, a world in which he and his sons are great men who "have what it takes" to make it in the context of business and free enterprise. In reality, none of them can achieve greatness until they confront and deal with this illusion....   [tags: Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman]

Free Essays
1523 words (4.4 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- Author and Era: Death of a Salesman, the “first great American Tragedy,” is a 1949 play written by American playwright Arthur Miller. Miller is known for being a true activist, supporting and participating in many liberal issues, including the civil rights struggle and the protest against the Vietnam War. The basis for Death of a Salesman lies in Arthur Miller’s relationship with his uncle Manny Newman, a salesman. Miller expresses Manny’s emotions through Willy Loman, the main protagonist. In successfully doing so, Miller has been deemed an American who understands the true nature and values of the United States (Bloom)....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
1292 words (3.7 pages)

The Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is a play about Willy Loman and his loving family. The Allegory of the Cave is a symbol for the differences between thought up ideas and what we see as reality. Plato’s main idea is to show us that what we see in the real world is not everything we actually see even if it’s not visibly apparent to us. The Allegory informs us how the world is a mysterious and dark cave, how us humans live as trapped enclosed prisoners unable to do anything, and everything we go through as experiences are shadows casted on the wall....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
2322 words (6.6 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- The American Dream In Death of a Salesman, written by American playwright Arthur Miller, focuses on Biff’s relationship towards his father Willy Loman. He plays the role that drives most of Willy’s thoughts and actions, specifically his memories. Whenever Willy is not able to accept the present, he reverts to the past where Biff is usually nearby. Before Willy’s trip to Boston, Biff admired his father. He trusted and believed his philosophy that any person can be successful, provided that he is “well-liked”....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
1097 words (3.1 pages)

Literary Realism in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

- Literary realism is the trend, beginning with mid nineteenth-century French literature and extending to late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors, toward depictions of contemporary life and society as it was, or is. In the spirit of general "realism," realist authors opted for depictions of everyday and banal activities and experiences, instead of a romanticized or similarly stylized presentation. (Wikipedia, Literary Realism) Realism, a style of writing that gives the impression of recording or ‘reflecting’ faithfully an actual way of life....   [tags: Reality, Life]

Strong Essays
2461 words (7 pages)

Reality Vs. Illusion Essay

- Reality vs. Illusion In 1938 Arthur Miller began to write plays after he graduated from college. All My Sons was his first successful play that gave him recognition from critics and audiences. He then won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for Death of a Salesman and became a very successful playwright of the 1940s and 1950s. His plays are unique in the way his characters use ordinary dialogue and deal with ordinary family problems. Death of a Salesman is a play about the significance and value of the American dream of success....   [tags: Arthur Miller Death Salesman Character Analysis]

Free Essays
1598 words (4.6 pages)

Essay about Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

- Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Many times while reading modern literature you will hear reference to the “American Dream”. What the various authors and or readers must decide is whether or not this is a true goal. There are many arguments that state that the “American Dream” is a figment of imagination. There are others that believe this is an attainable goal. One of the discussions that is held is what the true definition of the “American Dream” is. There are beliefs that think money and power are the ideal things to strive for....   [tags: Arthur Miller Death Salesman]

Strong Essays
1761 words (5 pages)