Death of a Salesman

In: English and Literature

Submitted By kelbykel11
Words 889
Pages 4
Death of a Salesman

Brian Kelnhofer


April 2, 2015
University of Phoenix Online

Death of a Salesman Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is one of my favorite plays growing up and one that defines history. Achieving the American dream is sought by so many people in society with little regard to what makes us truly happy. Willy Loman, the main character, works his whole life to provide financial security for his family and dreams about becoming rich only to be left with nothing at the end. The major driving theme behind the play is the American dream; which Miller points out is an allegory, the fallacy of working hard your whole lives chasing the American dream only to die a lonely and depressed man. Death of a Salesman challenges the effects of the American dream in a negative way.
The American Dream All your life you are told that to be successful in life you need two things: a career and money. This I find to be the American dream falsehood that today’s society is based on. The Death of a Salesman points out the flaws in that statement. Most Americans don’t work past 72 so we spend our whole life chasing a false dream only to die an unhappy and lonely person.
Willy creates an illusion of what the American dream should be like when he witnessed the accolades of Dave Singleman prolonged success. Willy pressures his children to seek the same ideals but Willy doesn’t even understand the meaning of success himself. I really connected with this part because as a father I am always trying to push my son to be better than me. Biff goes on to say, “I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and the time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and I thought, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be . . . when all I want is out there, waiting for me the…...

Similar Documents

Death of a Salesman

...Death of a Salesman Analysis In the play Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller crucifies the old-fashioned American Dream. Miller, while striking down the old idea that being well liked equates to being successful, shows that the American Dream of yesteryear can no longer be achieved. This idea is shown in both the last section of Act 2 and in the Requiem. Arthur Miller illustrates the condemnation of the old American Dream through Biff’s epiphany, Happy’s delusional success, and Willy’s funeral. While Biff flees Oliver’s office, he comes to a sudden realization that he’s been lying to himself his entire life and that Willy’s outdated version of the American Dream is unachievable for Biff and has caused him to fail. To reiterate this, Miller uses the “sky” (Miller, 1520) as a symbol for Biff’s possibilities. This is ironic, because Biff is running through “the middle of the [office building] and [he saw] the sky” without there being any windows mentioned. The “sky” (1520) that Biff sees isn’t the real sky, but the open-ness and the freedom that it grants. The sky also represents Biff’s chance to escape the web of lies that he has entangled himself in since high school, as its vastness is open and clear. The next way that Biff’s realization shows that the old American Dream has been demolished is that he denounces himself and his father of faking their way through life. As Biff and Willy argue, Biff admits that “[he is] not a leader of men” (1520) and that Willy is not......

Words: 1215 - Pages: 5

Death of a Salesman

...Death of a salesman The American Dream can be described as a belief in freedom that allows all citizens of the United States of America to achieve their goals in life through hard work. Today, in America it generally refers to the idea that one's prosperity depends upon one's own abilities and hard work. In the American mindset your societal role is not definitive but can change according to one’s effort. Those are values, which European settlers have kept and passed on to generations since the beginning of USA. This is exactly, what Willy Loman tries to live up to in Arthur Miller’s tragedy “Death of a Salesman” from 1948. One of the first problems which occurs in the play is, when we as readers find out, that Willy has tried to put his whole life into his sons, Biff and Happy, and they reward it just turning their backs on him. Willy still hopes, that Biff can go all the way one day, and become a businessman like his father. But hope became weakened one day after Biff flunked math. Biff was heading towards Boston to make his father help him, but instead he finds him with another woman. This makes Willy feel guilty with good reason, and he thinks that he is responsible for Biff’s choices in life and his failure to become successful. Another problem which Willy faces is that he is aging and his temperament is getting uncontrollable. Because he is getting older, he can’t do the same things as he used to. He can’t drive his car all day long anymore, and he is not making......

Words: 945 - Pages: 4

Death of a Salesman

...The significance of Death of a Salesman lies within its ability to extend beyond the post-war period, and to “speak” to people today. Death of a Salesman is based upon living the “American Dream”; This gave the opportunity for men and women to have a well-paying job, own a home, the option of having two cars, marriage, children, and pets. The most important aspect of living the “American Dream” is to know that in order to achieve these things in life you must work hard to succeed. Miller made this obvious by showing both success and failure. Willy Loman and his family had great dreams, but did not work hard to make them become reality. Willy and his family expected these things to happen on their own with little effort. As Willy’s nephew Bernard pushed Biff to put effort in his schooling, Willy and Biff just blew it off as though it was nothing. Biff expected his football skills to be enough to succeed, which he later found out wasn’t true at all. Bernard became very successful and Biff was the opposite. He didn’t do anything in his life and became nobody. Willy is another example; he expected good expected good things to come in life without effort. He expected his children to become successful so they could support him, but instead they became bums. The stress of not being able to pay bills and the failure of his children was so unbearable that he became absorbed in the past. Often oblivious to what was going on around him. Willy also became suicidal, constantly......

Words: 694 - Pages: 3

Death of a Salesman

...Willy Loman: Victim of the American Dream Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman tells the tale of Willy Loman, a man who falls from the top of the capitalism system in a resonant crash. Being controlled by his fears of the future, and stuck in his memories of the past, Willy fully contributes to his self-victimization by putting little blame on his own mistakes. Although Willy is perceived as selfish, it is important to see that he is misguided. His character is one of a common man, he has never been anything special, but he chose to follow the American Dream and continue the “destiny” it gave him. However, in my reading of the play, I feel it was not an unlucky destiny that pushed Willy to damage his own life and the lives of his family, but rather the flawed source of dreams given for a good life. Willy, a man so consumed with the hopeful vision of a better life, is clearly a victim to the deterioration of the American Dream. The historical context for Death of a Salesman is set in post- World War II America, so one may expect the country to be in a state of mourning. However, America did not suffer as horribly as Europe did, and Miller comments on this in his piece, Timebends. “There was a smell in the air of a new American Empire in the making, if only because, as I had witnessed, Europe was dying or dead, and I wanted to set before the new captains and the so smugly confident kings the corpse of a believer.” In this case, Willy Loman is the believer, and Miller......

Words: 618 - Pages: 3

Death of a Salesman

...Death of a Salesman Ceena Kebriti JKR How does the Willy/Biff relationship reveal some of the plays important ideas? In Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman,’ Willy and Biff’s relationship is used to demonstrate very important ideas in the play. As a father is so important in a boy’s childhood, Willy’s life has a strong influence in Biff’s decisions. A father has a different connection than a mother, (in this case Linda) and relate uniquely. A father should know when to play an active role in his son’s life, or when to stay passive and let him make his own decisions and learn from them. In this case Willy’s parenting style doesn’t allow Biff to grow independent, learn moral lessons, and realize the importance of education. The first theme that their relationship highlights is the ‘American Dream.’ Willy has always had his mind set on the idea that if you are well liked you can succeed. He also saw being a salesman as the best job you could get. ‘Bernard can get the best marks in school… you are going to be five times ahead of him.’ Here we see that Willy is teaches his boys his reading of society that being well liked is more important than a good education. However, later in the play Miller makes it obvious that this is not true. ‘How do you like this kid? Gonna argue a case in front of the Supreme Court.’ Miller through stage directions, makes Willy happy for Bernard’s success, but shocked and pained by the fact that he succeeded,......

Words: 987 - Pages: 4

Death of a Salesman

...Fiction analysis 702 Words March 2, 2013 Death of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Death of a salesman is a play that displays an imagine of the “American Dream” . Critics describe Death of a Salesman as the first great American tragedy and gave Miller credit for being the first in understanding the deep fundamentals that make up the United States. The play by Arthur Miller is based on the difficulty of achieving economic and individual success in a World War II society. In the play Miller presents differences between successful visions of the "American Dream" and "unsuccessful" ones. As the play goes on it continues to describe how the failure of William Loman’s and son’s Biff and Happy’s dream dies out. William Loman is portrayed as an insecure self-deluded traveling salesman. In a flashback, Willy tells his sons what it takes to be successful in America. He states, "Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. Willy Loman is here!" That’s all they have to know, and I go right through" (Miller). In reality this is only Willy’s fantasy. It appears that Willy is actually taken as a joke to other salesmen. Willy’s instability doesn’t allow him to fit into the society he pictures. As Willy is taking a shot at success his personal relationships begins to fail him. Willy is than......

Words: 702 - Pages: 3

Death of a Salesman

...Dream: Analysis of Death of a Salesman A tragedy play is a source of drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to extreme suffer or sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with lack of approval or support. Arthur Miller’s tragedy play, Death of a Salesman can be viewed as a urology of a man who was a constant dreamer, which represents his life and tragic death as he tries to fulfill his visions of having the American Dream. American tragedy explores the great myths that govern a society by examining the lives of its most ordinary citizens. Miller vividly expresses ideas throughout his play by demonstrating a changing society. Also, reading Death of a Salesman allows the play to be psychologically viewed as one man’s journey from shame and his own lack of self-confidence. Arthur Miller portrays Willy, his family, and other characters situation by the use of symbolism and themes, he accurately puts into words what every human being thinks, feels, and worries about, but often has trouble expressing. The lead character is Willy Loman, a failing door-to-door salesman coming to the end of his life but doggedly holding on to lost dreams. In the beginning of the play, we see Willy returning home to his wife Linda after almost crashing his car. Linda begins to worry about her husband and fears what may happen in the future. We soon learn why Willy is unable to continue his career as a salesman, which he has......

Words: 1278 - Pages: 6

Death of a Salesman

...The character's internal conflict of outward conformity versus inward questioning is manifested in the novel “Death of a Salesman” written by Arthur Miller, in which he portrayed Willy as a hollow salesman, constantly seeking wealth and fame in his life. Believing in his corrupted version of American Dream, Willy was unable to withdraw himself from his self deluded idea of societal conformity. Throughout the novel, Willy is in a constant state of mental dissillusionment. Containing a strong desire and obligation to fulfill his American Dream, he often contradict himself and thus trying to justify actions and events through nonsense justification. However, traces of Willy natural and subconscious inclinations also constantly show up in the novel. Therefore, as a result, Willy achieved virtually nothing in his life just like his belief in American Dream, which is surreal and intangible as well. Throughout the novel, the outward conformity and inward questioning of Willy often create contradicting tension. Willy often make contradicting statements from his previous assertions in order to conform his later statements into the standard of his American Dream. For example, Willy earlier stated that Biff is lazy, but he later denied Biff's laziness. He does so in order to retain his hope in Biff, wishing that someday he will achieve his American Dream through Biff. Another example of self contradiction is also manifested when Willy said that he will attain a more successful......

Words: 762 - Pages: 4

Death of a Salesman

...Death of a Salesman, Character analysis By Henry Cord Willy Loman, the main character in Death of a Salesman is a complex and fascinatingly tragic character. He is a man struggling to hold onto what dignity he has left in a changing society that no longer values the ideals he grew up to believe in. While society can be blamed for much of his misfortune, he must also be blamed himself to an equal extent for his bad judgement, disloyalty and his foolish pride. Willy Loman is a firm believer in the "American Dream:" the notion that any man can rise from humble beginnings to greatness. His particular slant on this ideal is that a man succeeds by selling his charisma, that to be well liked is the most important asset a man can have. He made a living at this for 30 years, but as he enters the later stage of his life, people have stopped smiling back and he can no longer sell the firm's goods to support himself. His ambition was one of greatness, to work hard and to be a member of the firm; and if he could not succeed in this respect, that he should at least be well-liked and be able to sell until the day of his death: When his friends would flock from all over the country to pay their respects. Willy's main flaw is his foolish pride, this it what makes him such a tragic hero. Yet there are many facets to his personality that contribute to the state he and the family are in during the play. His upbringing of the boys is one major issue, he raised them with the notion that......

Words: 1145 - Pages: 5

Death of a Salesman

...Nyonza Musinguzi 7/22/14 American Lit Death of A Salesman The story Death of A Salesman takes place in Brooklyn. It is all about a family that plans to live the American dream. Willy is a sixty three year old father married to Linda and they have two sons named Happy and Biff that are now currently living with them during the play. Biff is a “go with the flow” type of person that currently is moving from job to job trying to find his way in life. Happy is a successful businessperson so far living in the city working his was up the corporate ladder. Willy seems to be determined in his brain that his boys are not reaching their potential and it is his fault. Linda holds it down at the house and is very concerned in Willy’s mental health. Every family in the world main goal is success on all levels, this family has a very difficult path to reach success but they are heading the right direction. Success in America is living comfortably everyday in our economy. You do not have to be super rich to be considered successful, but you cannot be struggling to have food on the table and be behind on payments and still be successful. Some one successful is someone that wakes up and has a job to go to everyday that they enjoy their work and is passionate about it. This person will always have a meal to eat and light to shine in their homes. “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the...

Words: 726 - Pages: 3

Death of a Salesman

...The greatest and also the worst To myself, “Death of a salesman” is a story mainly about hope and dream. The dream in the play is a personal dream, but it has a close relationship with American dream, because it is a part of American dream, it reflects American dream in some certain ways from an ordinary person—a salesman and his family. Hope is the most important factor in the dream through out the whole play. Hope, in most cases, is the greatest thing in the world which brings people happiness, courage and power. On the other, hope can sometimes be the worst thing which destroy a person’s life, just like our main character—Willy, in the play “Death of a salesman”. The temporary hope that Biff gives to Willy and also Willy puts all his expectations into—big business, successful businessman for Biff, these all finally destroy Willy’s life and make his whole life become a tragedy. The profession of the main character—Willy, a salesman is by no means a coincidence for Arthur Miller. Salesman is the most representative job for trading in hope, they always transfer hope from today to tomorrow, they struggle in a possibility, in that uncertain hope that tomorrow will be better, tomorrow I will sell more, then I can make a fortune, I can make a big deal. But there is always a gap between reality and dream. Actually in the play, Willy knows that he can never be a successful salesman, can never make a big deal, can never start a business at his age anymore, but he just refused......

Words: 1460 - Pages: 6

Death of Salesman

...The Great American Disillusionment in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman Conjecture clouds an American man’s pursuit of success, leading to unfortunate ends in Arthur Miller's timeless production, Death of a Salesman. A post-depression era drama, Death of a Salesman challenges its audience to analyze universal components of the American Dream. Most people consider success a collision of past effort, future goals, and an appreciation for the present. Miller's character Willy Loman is convinced attractiveness, popularity, and physical prowess is all any man needs for prosperity. In the beginning, Miller introduces Willy's flawed insight linking personal attractiveness to success. Act I opens with a conversation between Willy and his wife, Linda. While discussing their son, Biff, Willy wonders how, “a young man with such – personal attractiveness, gets lost” (Miller 1237). Proudly, Willy continues his high praise asking Linda if she remembers how they all used to follow Biff around in high school and, “When he smiled … their faces lit up” (1237). As critic, Chester E. Eisinger points out, Willy so thoroughly indoctrinates his sons with his dreams of success they, are victims of illusions” (Eisinger 101). They invent, “impossible schemes for making money,” (101). Willy’s corruption, “prevents his sons from achieving a mature manhood” (101). Willy even stoops to dishonesty and self-destruction in his efforts to appear successful. His appreciation for physical appearance......

Words: 1047 - Pages: 5

Death of a Salesman

...In what ways does Fitzgerald and Williams present the importance of hopes and dreams? Both F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ and Arthur Miller’s ‘A Death of a Salesman’ focus their main ideas on the importance of hopes and dreams. Death of a Salesman, produced in 1949, has become a classic of modern American theatre. It is a story of an average salesman with a dream of being rich and well-liked. Willy believes whole heartedly in what he considers the promise of the American Dream. In the 1940’s The American Dream was as simple as it gets, to have a perfect, successful life with a common nuclear family, a house in the suburbs, a nice car and a life without conflict or family strife. ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a highly symbolic reflection on 1920’s America as a whole, in particular the disappearance of the American Dream in an era of material excess. On the surface, ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a story of the eternal love between a man and a woman. However, in reality the main theme of the novel involves a much larger, less romantic outlook. The 1920’s was an era of decayed social and moral values, which means that the idea of The American Dream was different to what it is now. When World War 1 ended in 1918, the generation of young Americans who fought the war became intensely disillusioned. The rise of the stock market in the aftermath of the war led to a sudden increase in the national wealth and a new found materialism, leading the younger generation to pursue a life of......

Words: 1674 - Pages: 7

Death of a Salesman

...Death of a Salesman As all Americans can attest to, the American Dream is a benchmark that is strived for one’s entire life, as one is constantly trying to find their purpose and figure out how best to achieve prosperity. In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Willy Loman spends his entire life identifying how he can achieve his personal American Dream. Willy strongly believes that fame is accomplished by being attractive and well-liked, and that it depends very little on one’s work ethic. This is precisely what Miller warned against when he stated that “it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self”, as Willy carries the false conception that if he is well-liked by others, he will realize his American Dream. In Death of a Salesman, Miller uses flashbacks like these as alterations of time that allow the reader to understand why the characters actions led to tragedy, and how Willy’s fate can be avoided if one uses hard work and dedication, rather than popularity, to attain their individual American Dream. Willy’s deranged perception of success is mainly shaped by Ben’s influence, because Ben had the opportunity of becoming rich through his personality and presence, which is exactly what Willy is striving for. Willy frequently immerses himself in flashbacks, in which he converses with Ben, and allows Ben to convince him to the point where he even tells himself “that a man can end up with diamonds on the basis of being liked.” In contrast, Charley attempts to......

Words: 1200 - Pages: 5

Death of a Salesman

...Death of A Salesman/Tragedy Heros A common man is just as capable as being a tragedy hero as a person of royalty would be. Many people have their own flaws and can be considered a tragedy hero in their own way. In the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller there are many characters that are described as tragedy heros. The main characters that are considered tragedy heros would be Willy, Linda and Biff. Willy is definitely a common man who is a tragedy hero because he dose not come from royalty or wealth. One way Willy exhibits a tragedy hero in Death of a Salesman is he is losing his mind from working and traveling so much. Working is causing Willy to lose his mind because he works so hard and travels so far to barely earn any money to put food on the table and it is mentally wearing him out. An example of this is when Willy says “I’m tired to death. I couldn’t make it. I just couldn’t make it”. This quote is showing how Willy is mentally and physically exhausted and could not make it to work. In addition, Linda can also be considered a tragedy hero in Death of a Salesman. Linda can be considered a tragedy hero because Linda is letting Willy kill himself even tho she cares and loves him so much. This can be shown in the quote by Linda “ I found a rubber hose next to the water heater with an attachment at the end of it...Every day I go down and take away the rubber pipe. But, When he comes home I put it back where it was”. This is showing that she is doing......

Words: 510 - Pages: 3