George Washington University Type of paper:
Aristotle held that tragedy portrayed the downfall of a king or noble, whose fall from grace was the result of a tragic flaw—generally held to be hubris, or an excessive amount of pride. For Willy, the success of that dream hinges on appearance rather than on substance, on wearing a white collar rather than a blue one.
It is this snobbery, combined with a lack of practical knowledge, that leads to his downfall. Indeed, much of the lasting popularity of Death of a Salesman both in the world of the theater and in the canon of English literature, lies in its treatment of multiple themes. Too didactic or moralistic for some modern readers, who see the author as heavy-handed, the play nevertheless raises many pertinent questions regarding American culture.
Many younger readers have even credited it with preventing them from making the same mistakes committed by the characters. 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. Instead, he listened to his brother Ben, that figment of his imagination who told him that money was the true path to happiness.
Out of options, Willy decides that suicide is his only exit, since Biff will then collect the insurance settlement and be able to launch a career in business.
Yet, although he remains misguided, Willy achieves the stature of a tragic hero. Fighting a world pitted against him, he fulfills his destiny and sacrifices himself for his son by paying a debt in blood. The futility of his life and dreams are revealed, however, when only his immediate family attends what Willy has imagined would be a magnificent funeral, thus exposing a legacy of only disappointment and death.
Nevertheless, the end is not entirely bleak: Accordingly, the audience experiences a catharsis—the cleansing or purgation associated with classical tragedy.CRITICAL ANALYSIS-DEATH OF A SALESMAN -ARTHUR MILLER Arthur Miller (Oct Feb ) was, in all probability, one of the greatest playwrights of contemporary history He is also one of the greatest critics of contemporary American society, as his works often tend to portray American middlemen as.
Despite this failure, Willy makes the most extreme sacrifice in his attempt to leave an inheritance that will allow Biff to fulfill the American Dream.
Ben’s final mantra—“The jungle is dark, but full of diamonds”—turns Willy’s suicide into a metaphorical moral struggle, a final skewed ambition to realize his full commercial and material capacity.
Death of a Salesman takes place primarily within the confined landscape of the Lomans’ home. This narrow, and increasingly narrowing setting is contrasted with the vastness of the American We (Click the setting infographic to download.) Most of the action is set in Willy Loman's home and yard.
Introduction. The death of a salesman is a play which was authored by Arthur Miller. The storyline of this text spins around the last twenty-four hours of the main character, Willy Loman, before his death. Still, Willy Loman is often thought of as a hero. Of course, he's a particular kind of hero: a tragic hero.
The ancient Greeks were the first to write about these doomed souls. Willy Loman is a middle-aged salesman with outdated ideas about himself and the world around him.
He still believes that he can succeed in life, even though it's abundantly clear that his time has.