Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman as Social Commentary

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman as Social Commentary

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Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman as Social Commentary


Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman portrays the Loman's and all the
family conflicts they faced.  It's also apparent on a bigger scale that this
play is a social commentary.  It touches all the problems brought on by
wealth and success in our culture.  Death of a Salesman is more effective as
a reflection of society and the problems it faces than as a depiction of
family conflicts.

    The play showed how Willy Loman's longing to be successful controlled his
life and ruined his family.  Willy also represents a large piece of society. 
He portrays the people in our culture that base their lives on acquiring
money.  Greed for success has eaten up large numbers of people in this
country.  It's evident in the way Willy acts that his want of money consumes
him.  This constantly happens in our society; people will do anything to
crawl up the ladder of success, often knocking down anyone in their way.

    Death of a Salesman also reflected how families treat people once they
are older.  Willy raised Biff and Happy when they were completely dependent
on him, but the boys aren't willing to help Willy out when he needs them. 
This is more effective when looked at as if Willy represents all the older
people in our society.  It shows how the elderly are looked down upon, are
thought to be crazy, and have their jobs taken away for no reason other than
age.  At times you feel sorry for Willy because these things are happening to
him and he is powerless against them.  This makes the reader stop to examine
our own culture and the ways we discriminate against people who should be our
equals and treated with respect.

    This play also represents how Willy's actions affected his entire family.
 He always pushed the boys to have to be the greatest at everything they did.
 This made the children grow up to always feel like they could never do
enough to please their father.  They ended up doing things against what they
truly wanted.  Biff never found a sufficient occupation and was forced to do
things like steal.  Happy ended up lying to make things always seem better
than they were.  But it's how this represents society that makes it so
effective.

    The biggest issue this play imitates is peer pressure.  Willy's pressure

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on the kids is like pressure from friends to do things you normally wouldn't
do.  Our culture thrives on peer pressure.  It can sometimes be positive,
like when it pushes you to give your best effort, and sometimes negative,
like when it causes you to conform excessively.  Either way, Death of a
Salesman shows the effects of society's pressure on normal people.  Willy is
just a man who wanted to be well off.  To him, this meant rich and
successful.  Many people are just like Willy; they have to be well liked
because to them, that's what success is.

    Death of a Salesman shows both family and society conflicts.  However,
it's definitely more effective when looked at as an exposing of society's
conflicts.  It forces you to evaluate the morals and values of this culture. 
It shows what kinds of things we hold most important and all the hurt that
results from making those the most valued things.  The play is a depressing
but truthful reflection of our society.
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