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Death of a Salesman Analysis - Essay

Arthur Miller

❶Too didactic or moralistic for some modern readers, who see the author as heavy-handed, the play nevertheless raises many pertinent questions regarding American culture. Willy revisits the past not in an effort to sink into happy memories, but in an effort to analyze himself and understand where his life went wrong.

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Linda is the only character that recognizes the Loman family lives in denial; however, she goes along with Willy's fantasies in order to preserve his fragile mental state. The second major theme of the play is contradiction. Throughout the play, Willy's behavior is riddled with inconsistencies. In fact, the only thing consistent about Willy is his inconsistency.

From the very beginning of Act I, Scene 1, Willy reveals this tendency. He labels Biff a "lazy bum" but then contradicts himself two lines later when he states, "And such a hard worker. There's one thing about Biff — he's not lazy. Willy's inconsistent behavior is the result of his inability to accept reality and his tendency to manipulate or re-create the past in an attempt to escape the present.

For example, Willy cannot resign himself to the fact that Biff no longer respects him because of Willy's affair. Rather than admit that their relationship is irreconcilable, Willy retreats to a previous time when Biff admired and respected him. As the play continues, Willy disassociates himself more and more from the present as his problems become too numerous to deal with.

The third major theme of the play, which is order versus disorder, results from Willy's retreats into the past. Each time Willy loses himself in the past, he does so in order to deny the present, especially if the present is too difficult to accept.

As the play progresses, Willy spends more and more time in the past as a means of reestablishing order in his life. The more fragmented and disastrous reality becomes, the more necessary it is for Willy to create an alternative reality, even if it requires him to live solely in the past. This is demonstrated immediately after Willy is fired.

Ben appears, and Willy confides "nothing's working out. I don't know what to do. Linda appears and convinces Willy that he should stay in sales, just like Dave Singleman. Willy's confidence quickly resurfaces, and he is confident that he has made the right decision by turning down Ben's offer; he is certain he will be a success like Singleman.

Thus, Willy's memory has distracted him from the reality of losing his job. Denial, contradiction, and the quest for order versus disorder comprise the three major themes of Death of a Salesman. All three themes work together to create a dreamlike atmosphere in which the audience watches a man's identity and mental stability slip away.

The play continues to affect audiences because it allows them to hold a mirror up to themselves. Willy's self-deprecation, sense of failure, and overwhelming regret are emotions that an audience can relate to because everyone has experienced them at one time or another.

Individuals continue to react to Death of a Salesman because Willy's situation is not unique: He made a mistake — a mistake that irrevocably changed his relationship with the people he loves most — and when all of his attempts to eradicate his mistake fail, he makes one grand attempt to correct the mistake. Willy vehemently denies Biff's claim that they are both common, ordinary people, but ironically, it is the universality of the play which makes it so enduring.

Biff's statement, "I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you" is true after all. Previous Miller's Manipulation of Time and Space. Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller. Scene 1 Act I: Scene 2 Act I: Chief among these themes is an indictment of the capitalist nature of the American Dream—the belief that through the pioneer virtues of hard work, perseverance, ingenuity, and fortitude, one might find happiness through wealth.

Implicit within this dream, however, is the assumption that money leads to fulfillment, regardless of the type of work that one does in order to attain it. While Willy himself was never successful as a salesman, he remains confident that his son Biff will be able to make it big in business because of his good looks and his past glory as a high school football star. Willy makes the error of celebrating popularity over know-how, style over substance.

The way in which this theme informs the play is also the key to its form, since Willy constantly relives the past through a series of flashbacks.

These scenes present Biff and Happy as they appeared in high school, providing the audience with a glimpse into the happy past that shaped the unhappy present. Another theme thus emerges: Instead, he took a series of menial jobs and wandered aimlessly, only to return home at the age of thirty-four, unsure of both his identity and his purpose.

Yet, when Biff confronts his father in the final scene, he has an epiphany, a sudden burst of knowledge: Biff realizes that success entails working at an enjoyable job, which for him means working on a farm, outdoors, with his shirt off.

The life of business and the city is not for him, and he sees his happiness in day-to-day living rather than in the goals foisted on him by society or by his father. Happy, meanwhile, lacks the courage of honesty and remains caught in the rat race, still under the impression that wealth and status are the keys to fulfillment. In a sense, Death of a Salesman ends on an optimistic note, in that Biff discovers a new sense of himself, stripped of illusion, as he finally becomes a man with self-respect—one who paradoxically has found pride through humility.

Willy, however, remains imprisoned by a set of false ideals. Having devoted his life to a belief in the honor of a career as a salesman, he possessed too much snobbery to admit that his own destiny was in a simple career as a carpenter.

How did Willy’s brother Ben make his fortune?

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Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller - Death of A Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, is a play based on the turmoil within an average American family.

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Death of a Salesman essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis .

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Death of a Salesman Homework Help Questions What is the impact of Willy Loman's ambition on himself and others in Death of a Salesman? Death of a Salesman was first published in Death of a Salesman Literary Analysis Essay Words | 4 Pages. Trent Beebe Beebe 1 Mr. Arena 4th hour AP Lang & Comp 12/17/09 Death of a Salesman Essay The story, Death of a Salesman, is a story that has many literary devices that help to make it the deep and riveting story that has become an American classic.

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Willy Loman as Tragic Hero in Death of a Salesman Willy Loman, the troubled father and husband in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, can be classified as a tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle in his work, Poetics. A+ Student Essay. Willy Loman is constantly reminiscing and thinking about the past. Why? What effect does this have on him and on the play? To an unusual degree, The Death of a Salesman interweaves past and present action. Willy Loman, the play’s protagonist, repeatedly revisits old memories, sometimes even conflating them with .