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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 decade ago

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman?

Any idea how the play deals with issues of family, capitalism, and the American Dream? I just need somewhere to start..


Thanks Pamela..that really helped. :D

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    ‘Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 1949. It is widely considered to be a cornerstone of American letters. The play is in fact a caustic attack on the "American Dream" of materialism. Centering on the main character, Willy Loman, Death of a Salesman is a three-act play (two acts and a "requiem"). The requiem is the most emphatic part of the play.

    Willy Loman has been a traveling salesman all his life. He is sixty-three. Despite his hard work and grueling schedule, the Lomans have always lived on the edge of poverty and Willy has always been an underling in his company. As the destiny would have it Willy has not got any chance of promotion. Yet Willy constantly tells himself and his family that the "big break" he deserves is just around the corner. He has raised his two sons, Biff and Happy. Willy believes that somehow life has cheated them and insists that one day they will get their due. Linda, Willy's dutiful wife, lives under the thin veneer of denial that her husband has so long tried to keep from collapsing. She has never protested against anything and has suffered everything patiently.

    The economic conditions suddenly change and Willy finds that the company has no further need for his services. Willy is devastated and is unable to understand how his employer could just cast him aside after so many years of faithful service. In Act 1, Willy states his work ethics clearly when he says that a man who makes his appearance in the business world is the man who gets ahead. Willy’s old boss has died, leaving his son the company. The new owner does not regard the services provided by Willy. He sees Willy as having outlived his usefulness to the company. Willy is terminated and soon discovers that he is unable to find other similar employment.

    Willy now feels that he has lost the battle and he can never fulfill the dreams of his children and his wife. Despite his protests otherwise, Willy knows he is a failure. He begins to slowly kill himself by inhaling gas fumes from a hose in the garage, an act that relieves his mental anguish and gives him a brief high. The gas also muddles Willy's mind, conflating past, present, and future. This shifting through time and space helps the reader/audience see how much pressure there has been on this simple man to be accepted in the only way he thinks is valuable: to make money. He wants desperately to be "well liked," and without the status of being a manager who makes more money, the dream is impossible. He dies as he has lived, a failure in the eyes of society.

    Arthur Miller has succeeded in conveying a clear message that in this fast changing materialistic world, everybody is running after money and values do not matter anymore. The tragic end of the salesman leaves the audiences with sighs and tears.

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  • eaves
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    wow - it is been 17 years for the reason that I learn "dying of a keep clerk" -- it replaced into for my college lit 2 type and our instructor spent 0.5 the semester on DOAS and the countless 0.5 dissecting T.S. Elliot's "The desolate tract" -- all I post to in techniques is I detested the two after the right of the type. I felt unhappy for Willy Loman and his life -- he had to be a fulfillment and tried very perplexing and had good intentions no count if it did now no longer come via -- i think of of it replaced into vacume air purifier. Now i think of of i'll grant into my hatred of the play and take a glance at to income it decrease back with a open techniques.

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