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Death of a Salesman Free Essay


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Death of a Salesman – Free Sample

Willy Loman, the protagonist in the ‘Death of a Salesman’ is an interesting and complex tragic character. He struggles to maintain the dignity he has left in a changing world that does not value any longer the ideals that he grew up believing in. Whereas society can be responsible for much of his predicament, he should also be responsible himself equally to an extent for his wrong judgment, foolish pride and treachery. He is a strong believer in the notion of the ‘American Dream,’ that any person is capable of rising from bumble beginnings to greatness. However, his specific slant on this notion is that a man becomes successful by selling his personality, that to be accepted or recognized is the most fundamental asset that can be possessed by a man. Wily is a very interesting character that many people try to help him but he disregards them; instead, he decided to create his own imaginative lifestyle in which he values recognition as the best way of survival. This is what ultimately leads to his downfall.

His main fault is his foolish pride, and this makes his a tragic hero. However, there are several factors to his character that greatly contribute to the state him together with his family are in, in the play. His nurturing of the boys is a key issue. He brought them up with the perception that if someone is popular, he should not be worried about the qualifications, he had the belief that his boys would come out on top if they were well-liked. Unfortunately, he does not realize that perhaps the only way a common person could get rich was by hard work, or even through good timing and luck, and he did not catch the boat when it came to luck (Sandage 38). As the story develops, one starts feeling sorry for him and his misfortune, but also becomes angered by his foolish pride. It is this characteristic that eventually prevents Willy from accepting a reliable job with Charlie, which could have actually saved his life (Bigsby 73).

In addition, it is this foolish pride that has been sparking the flame of the family for several years, the conception that the name ‘Loman’ was widely known and accepted. This even led to the family members lying among themselves concerning their positions as shown in the play’s climax. The best example is the way Biff was led to believe by Wily that he had a salesman for Oliver, which eventually left Biff resentfully disenchanted. This extrapolation’s cause of the truth might be part of his fearful psyche that he has not brought up his children well. Willy demeans his intelligent and hardworking neighbors, Charley together with his son Bernard. Willy ridicules both people when Biff is a high school soccer star, but after Biff has become a worn-out drifter, he decides to turn to his neighbors for help. Will is lent fifty dollars a week by Charley, at times more, so that he could be in a position of paying the bills. However, whenever Willy if offered a decent job by Charley, Willy becomes offended. He is too proud to accept an offer of a job from his opponent and friend, as he believes that it would be a submission or even admission of defeat (Hurell 82).

Charley might surely be an old individual, but the writer has instilled this character with a great deal of empathy and care. In each scene, we see him hoping to kindly steer Willy onto a less destructive way. He advices Willy that at times it is good to let go of distress. He tries to give credit to the accomplishments of Willy, particularly regarding putting up the ceiling. He does not brag or even boast about Bernard, his successful son (Miller 37).

Despite his hopeless searching through the past, he does not attain the self-knowledge or self-realization distinctive or typical of the tragic hero. Nevertheless, the quasi-resolution that he is offered by his suicide only represents a partial revealing of the truth. Whereas he achieves a proficient knowledge of himself and the elemental nature of the sales career, he does not realize his individual failure and the betrayal of his family and soul via the carefully established pretense of his life. He is not able to grasp the actual spiritual emotional and personal understanding of himself as a truthful and literal ‘Loman’ or ‘low man.’ He is too obsessed by his own obstinate “intransigence” to realize the skewed reality that has been forged by his hopeless and desperate mind. Most critics, who focus on his embedment in a quagmire of self-deceptions, apparition, and lies, disregard the substantial accomplishment of his biased self-realization. His failure to realize the agonized love that his family offered him is critical to the peak of his hectic day, and this incapacity is represented by the play as the actual tragedy. However, despite this disappointment, he makes the most tremendous sacrifice when he tries to leave an inheritance that will enable Biff to accomplish the American Dream (Comgan 27).

Just like Oedipus, we find that Willy blindly goes through his life, without discovering the full truth of himself. He does not admit the fact that he is a failure. One could say that the concept of hamartia is evident in Willy via his apparitional character. Moreover, just like Oedipus, and many other tragic heroes, Willy Loman’s hamartia results to his own collapse. His delusions ultimately result to him taking his own life. He is a man whose down fall from the top of the capitalistic totem position leads to a resonant crash, both metaphorically and literally. As a person entrenched in the past memories and driven by his future fears, he sees himself as a victim of the predicament or misfortune, having little responsibility for his incessant drawbacks. In my opinion, it was not an unfortunate destiny that led him to destroy his own life together with those that he loved; but his distorted and vague set of values (Bloom 27).

If actually he had valued recognition over reputation, individualism over conventionality and commitment over acquisitiveness, he would have seen himself rich during his later years, feeling appreciative to have a wife and two children that gave him love; and that would have been sufficient. Yet since he was not able to be thankful for the significant things in life, he eventually chose death as an option, consequently stealing the chance for true pleasure away from those who were successful in finding their own kinds of peace before his selfish behavior. What is really paradoxical here is that the suicide act is his warped means of demonstrating to Biff how he loved him, yet he does not once comprehend the idea that his popularity and knowledge would have been beneficial to his son more than any insurance policy ever could. Furthermore, even if his family had managed to acquire the insurance funds, it would have not lessened their distress or suffering (Alice 53).

Therefore, his faulty reality perceptions and what really mattered to his family unsighted him to the things that could have actually made him together with those he loved very happy.  According to Miller (p 65), issuing expression like “Ridding on a shoeshine and a smile, and individuality usually carries the day,’ did very little in convincing Willy or even those around him that pleasure is that easily found. After all, he had not been successful in obtaining it and even his children. If he had loved his children unreservedly rather than dolling out his love depending on their achievements, he probably might not have felt like a failure the way he did, since if nothing else, he would have actually been successful as a father (Carson 43). He could sincerely take no arrogance in the values that he had instilled in his two children. For instance, as he asserts that acceptance, above all, is the mankind’s ultimate goal, then he disregards to qualify his sentiments by further stating that an individual should be accepted for being him or herself, and not by trying to adapt to whatever is dictated by the surrounding circumstances just like a chameleon does. Had will been a good listener and a simple man; making the right choices in life, he could have avoided all that befell him.

Works Cited

Alice, Griffin. Understanding Arthur Miller. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003.53. Print.

Bloom, Harold. Arthur Miller: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003.27. Print.

Carson, Neil. Arthur Miller, Grove, 2008.43. Print.

Bigsby, Christopher. The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.73. Print.

Comgan, Robert W. Arthur Miller: A Collection of Critical Essays, Prentice-Hall, 2004.27. Print.

Helterman, Jeffrey. “Arthur Miller.” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 7:

Hurell, John. Two Modern American Tragedies: Reviews and Criticism of Death of a Salesman and A streetcar Named Desire. New York: Scribner, 2005.82. Print.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Viking Penguin, 1998. Print.

Miller, Arthur." Biographical Dictionary. New York: Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd., 1997.37. Print.

Sandage, Scott. Born Losers: A History of Failure in America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007.38. Print.

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