In Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, Miller probes the dream of Willy Lowman while making a statement about the dreams of American society. This essay will explore how each character of the play contributes to Willy's dream, success, and failure.
Willy is the aging salesman whose imagination is much larger than his sales ability. Willy's wife, Linda, stands by her husband even in his absence of realism. Biff and Happy follow in their father's fallacy of life. Willy's brother, Ben is the only member of the Loman family with the clear vision necessary to succeed. Charlie and his son Benard, on the other hand, enjoy better success in life compared to the Lomans.
Miller has written an ambiguous play - unwilling to commit himself to a firm position with respect to tawdry business ethic and the ?industrialized? American dream. Miller alludes to an earlier version of the American dream - escape to the West and the farm, but he then denies us the fulfillment of our expectations. The play makes no judgment on America, although Miller seems always on the verge of one. But Willy is not a tragic hero; he is a foolish and ineffectual man for whom we feel pity. We cannot equate Willy?s failure to realize his dream with the failure of the American dream. Indeed, there is a lot of room for failure as well as great success in America. The system is not the one to blame. Willy can only blame himself for not becoming what he wanted to be.
The next character, Willy Loman's wife Linda, is not part of the solution but rather part of the problem with this dysfunctional family and their inability to see things for what they really are. Louis Gordon ...
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...ly one of them capable of achieving success. However, Charlie and his son Bernard were able to achieve greatness and to make the system work for them. In the end, the decision to make it in this American system is, ironically, up to the individual.
Eisinger, Chester E. "Focus on Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman': The Wrong Dreams," in American Dreams, American Nightmares, (1970 rpt In clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1976 vol. 6:331
Foster, Richard J. (Confusion and Tragedy: The Failure of Miller's 'Salesman' (1959) rpt in clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1983 vol. 26:316
Gardner, R. H. ("Tragedy of the Lowest Man," in his Splintered Stage: (1965) rpt in clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1983 vol. 2l6:320
Gordon, Lois "Death of a Salesman": An Appreciation, in the Forties: 1969) rpt in clc. Detroit: Gale Research. 1983 vol. 26:323
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