27 Aug 2011

Essay Topic: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

‘Death of a Salesman’ is the complete life history of Willy Loman, who was a salesman by profession living in Brooklyn. The presentation style of the author ‘Arthur Miller’ is so rich that the whole play gives an impression of playing live before our eyes. The whole story revolves around Willy Loman and his family, which includes his wife ‘Linda’ and his two sons ‘Biff Loman and Happy Loman’. The general perception about this play is that it is a tragic piece of literature; however, the comprehensive analysis of this play imparts a different approach because the theory of Willy Loman about gaining success for happily living was quite fussy and rusty in its nature. His stumbling nature made him resistant to adopt the flexible philosophy of life for coping with the modern social world and his dogmatism eventually leaded him to take a suicide like coward step, in spite of his caring wife. The moral of the story is that egoism and stubbornness never leads to success.
The author has concluded that Willy’s character cannot be quoted as a tragic hero because tragedy requires some incidents or natural flaws incurred to the tragic heroes. Bradford also appreciates the attempt to become a tragic hero but also criticizes the senile attitude of Willy. Though Arthur Miller has endorsed the same notions and philosophies in this play but it will be still difficult to decide as the author has shown concerns about that at the end of this review analysis. Arthur Miller seems to describe the vagueness of typical American society. At the same time, the main character ‘Willy’ gives different outlook as in the other plays. Willy stands for the American dreamy world and also reflects the real issues that the Americans are facing due to illusionistic ideas. In other words, the protagonist of this play was living in a dreamy world and was obsessed with obnoxious anti-Marxist ideas. The major rationale behind his failure of life was his unrealistic philosophy of life that contributed mainly for compelling him for suicide. Willy was highly obsessed with the concepts of conservatism and arrogance. His egoism and erroneousness has leaded him to make multiple suicidal attempts and finally, he succeeded in killing himself. His whole life, as sketched by Arthur Miller, described his inflexible nature towards the changing societal values and also shows his typical nature as is usually of an American middleman. Hence, he should have more pragmatic approach to gain access to his dreams and to compete with modern societal challenges (Bradford, About.com).
‘Death of a Salesman’ is composed of three main sections that are Act I, Act II and Requiem. The play starts with Act I, which includes also the opening scene of the play presenting the true picture of a middle-class American, named Willy Loman, who was a resident of Brooklyn in the New York City and was a sixty three year old traveling salesman. After a non-productive routine official tour, his wife ‘Linda’ shows her deep concerns on his tiresome facial expressions, which denotes her supportive nature for her husband. At this point, the author, Arthur Miller, seems to be well-acquainted with strong matrimonial emotions. Willy’s today was completely different from his hopes and dreams that were not atypical from the middle-class American dream. Willy’s two sons, Biff and Happy, were also back to his home at that day. Willy criticized Biff on coming back to home after such a long period of 15 years with no cash in hand. On the other side, these two brothers found their father as an absent-minded person in his old age. They also ridiculed their father in a sense that he could not cope with societal changes (Bradford, About.com).
Willy has displayed arrogant and obstinate nature throughout his whole life. The lack of parenting skills has also produced flaws in his personality that has been presented by author at various scenes of the play. While, taking Willy back to his past, the author described his unethical parental coaching to his son on his act of stealing a football because he did not react to him in an expected manner. The author has also described the romantic nature of Willy, when the love-affair of Willy was described during a scene of the play. These all thoughts of Willy were disturbed, when his neighbor, Bernard, complained about the educational illness of Biff on which Willy got short-tempered and started searching for Biff with intensive aggravation and this scene was also the closure of flashback (Bradford, About.com).
In another scene, the author has described the ideal of Willy who was Willy’s own rich brother, named Ben. Ben used to extract diamond in the jungles of Africa and Willy also remembered his proposal to join him in this venture, but Willy did not accept his proposal. Here, Miller has again indicated his egoistic nature. Retaining the same depressive emotions, Willy started to daunt Happy for his obsessed thinking. In the mean time, his next-door neighbor Charlie came into his home who was an owner of a sales-firm. During playing cards, Charlie offered him to join his firm, but he again declined here and even insulted him. His nature of conservatism and arrogance leaded him to his failure and eventually to suicide. Here, Willy has idolized his father also to an extent, assuming that he was a rich and successful man (Bradford, About.com).
Biff was quite confused to see his father’s awkward attitude and also queried her mother about his state of mind for its duration. Here, Linda, Willy’s wife, proved herself as a loyal wife and accused them to be the sole cause of his current insanity. Here, she also tried to convince them for being responsible by telling them about his suicidal attempts. She also appreciated her husband’s effort to make them able for keep pace with social needs. After listening his mother’s lecture, Biff promised his mother for gratifying his father in the future. During an argumentative conversation between Biff and Happy, they began to investigate the underlying reason behind the failure of Biff in the business world and in the meanwhile, Willy joined this discussion. On his entrance, Happy tried to please his father by presenting the plan of Biff that he was going to his ex-employer for requesting loan and Biff also reluctantly confirmed this statement, even Biff was not ready to go for it. This plan presentation made Willy smile, which shows here his greedy nature. However, at the end of this scene, there was again a conflict between two brothers (Bradford, About.com).
Willy seems to be well-equipped with the elements of arrogance and egoism. In the same evening, Biff was also carrying a bad news for Willy because he could finalize his deal with his ex-boss. Then, Happy tried to convince Biff to make a bluff with Willy so as to please him, but Biff was again reluctant in doing so. When Willy arrived, Biff started to tell the whole story, but Happy was again and again interrupting him so as to distract him from the truth. Willy left the dining table. On their return to home, Linda castigated their behavior with their father. Then, the climax of the play came when Willy drove his car into death. The last section described the funeral ceremony of Willy (Home Work Online).
Bradford believes also that Willy was the self motif behind his failure because he could not walk with contemporary society. The author also indicates that his suicide attempt was only meant for insurance company which has become common in the middle-class Americans. The author has also concluded that Willy’s character cannot be quoted as a tragic hero because tragedy requires some incidents or natural flaws incurred to the tragic heroes. Bradford also appreciates the attempt to become a tragic hero but also criticizes the senile attitude of Willy. Through Arthur Miller has endorsed the same notions and philosophies in this play but it will be still difficult to decide as the author has shown concerns about that at the end of this review analysis. Arthur Miller seems to describe the vagueness of typical American society. At the same time, the main character ‘Willy’ gives different outlook as in the other plays. Willy stands for the American dreamy world and also reflects the real issues that the Americans are facing due to illusionistic ideas (Bradford, About.com).
Arthur Miller has used various themes in this work; however, the major thematic expression is the American Dream. As the protagonist of this play belongs to a middle-class, this play reflects the overwhelming ideology of the American society. Similarly, abandonment is another thematic expression of this play which is quite vivid in the Willy’s character. Willy Loman has been observed as the character with frequent and subsequent denials and deviations from the truths. He has been in a state of continuous abandonment throughout the whole play. Loman has been in a state of confusion because he never tried to understand what he really wanted to be. Arthur Miller has used various motifs in this play among which mythic figure is an important aspect. Thus, Arthur Miller has been found a person with a strong vision of the Western world (Sparknotes, Analysis of Willy Loman).
Conclusively, it would not be righteous to label this play as a tragic play because Willy was highly obsessed with the concepts of conservatism and arrogance. His whole life, as sketched by Arthur Miller, described his inflexible nature towards the changing societal values and also shows his typical nature as is usually of an American middleman. His dreams were quite opposite to his actions. But the work of the author is undeniably realistic because Arthur Miller has selected the American Dream as the topic of this play in order to present the flaws and dilemmas prevalent in the middle-class society of the America. From the perspective of socio-economic theory, as illustrated by Mandel, Marxism is a flexible philosophy for accommodating contemporary changes in the social and economic system of the modern world. The protagonist of this play was living in a dreamy world and was obsessed with obnoxious anti-Marxist ideas. The major rationale behind his failure of life was his unrealistic philosophy of life.

Works Cited

Bradford, W. “Death of a Salesman- Review”. About.com. 06 Aug. 2011

Home Work Online. 06 Aug. 2011 < http://www.homework-online.com/doas/index.asp>

Mandel, E. An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory. Australia: Resistance Books, Chippendale NSW 2008. 2002.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Viking Press: New York. 1949.

03 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Iliad/Odyssey Hubris Comparison

Iliad was written in 850 BC and Odyssey somewhere around 400 BC. This time was different from the modern times. In this age, pride and arrogance often came before everything else and wealth and power often provoked the pride. In the modern days it would sound strange. The pride or the element of Hubris of the heroes in Iliad and Odyssey have brought about their downfall or caused them some harm or other.
The characters of Hector and Patrocleus are two instances of pride in people bringing about their defeat or downfall. Hector was too proud to leave the battleground and the hence confronted Achilles. As well said by King Priam, “Ah for a young man all looks fine and noble if he goes down in war…he lies there dead…but whatever death lays bare, all wounds are marks of glory.” (Homer and Fagles, 1990, p.544) Hector’s pride allows him to think that all the pains and hurt inflicted by death would be mark of glory. He was also betrayed by his fellowmen and it was believed that if he has lived, he could have defended Troy. The most interesting instance would be Achilles in Iliad. He was also destroyed by his pride. When Agamemnon took his woman, he was too proud to participate in the battle and Achilles said “But now that he’s torn my honor from my hands, robbed me, lied to me…he’ll never win me over!” (Homer and Fagles, 1990, p. 263) this decision was based on pride and this made his fellow Acheans suffer. In order to preserve his ego he lent his armor to Patrocleus and this led to the downfall of his character as well as the death of his friend. Even though Agamemnon hurt Achilles’ pride, he did not let him dictate is actions. Achilles’ hurt ego is well reflected as he says,  “You overlook this, dogface, or don’t care, / and now in the end you threaten to take my girl, / a prize I sweated for, and soldiers gave me!” (Homer and Fagles, 1990, p. 157-62) he also calls Agamemnon a coward and thief.

Another example of pride is well reflected in Homer’s Odyssey, through the character of Odysseus. The story of The Odyssey, as written by Homer, reveals the character of Odysseus as a shrewd traveler in disguise who hides his identity to achieve his goals and narrates the wanderings of the hero of the Trojan War. We find that Odysseus reveals his strength as well as his flaws. He was held captive against his will by Calypso but with the help pf Athena and Zeus he escapes after politely telling her that all he wanted was a safe departure to home since he was tired and cleverly hides the fact about his wife. Again, the land of Helios teaches him how dangerous temptation can be and how disregard of the gods’ instruction could be deadly. The men uses their own judgment out of their temptation and this causes them to lose their lives. This once again reflects the extent of dependency on the gods. An example of recklessness is drawn upon in the land of the Cyclopes where Odysseus in his curiosity to meet Polymephos, the one eyed giant and the son of Poseidon (god of earthquake) gets trapped and many of his men gets eaten up by the giant. He at last finds a way out using his tricks but after escaping screams out curses at the monster and reveals his true name to the Cyclopes. When they escaped by hiding in the flings along with the rams, Odysseus narrates, ” I, too, had my own ram, the finest one in the whole flock by far.”(Line 571-572) This also reveals his arrogance to some extent. Odysseus mocks at the Cyclops, saying:

“Cyclops,
it seems he was no weakling, after all,

the man whose comrades you so wished to eat,
using brute force in that hollow cave of yours.
Your evil acts were bound to catch you out,
you wretch-you didn’t even hesitate
to gorge yourself on guests in your own home.
Now Zeus and other gods have paid you back.” (Line 630-636)

This angers Poseidon who vows to avenge him. “It made his heart more angry. He snapped off a huge chunk of mountain rock and hurled it.” (Line 637-639)

In the end after his return however he is advised to make a sacrifice to the god of earthquake in order to show respect to the gods. Odysseus carried on with his reckless curses unless his comrades warned him:

“‘That’s reckless.
Why are you trying to irritate that savage?
He just threw a boulder in the sea
and pushed us back on shore. We really thought
he’d killed us there.  If he’d heard us speak
or uttering a sound, he’d have hurled down
another jagged rock, and crushed our skulls,
the timbers on this ship, as well.  He’s strong,
powerful enough to throw this far.” (Line 651-659)

The land of the lotus-eaters however represents peace and that of the deaths represent knowledge. The land of death reveals to him various facts about his sailors and his family as well through the spirits. The visit to Kirke’s land teaches the readers how lust could snatch the power of a goddess and here one may find the remark of Calypso applicable. The experience also shows that some amount of caution is always essential and unnecessary curiosity and lack of tact leads to destruction. Again, the event of Hermes appearing before Odysseus to hand him the herb in order to free his men (whom Kirke has converted to pigs) tells us the important role of the Greek gods in the Greek society. Here his men were all turned into pigs but heroically rescued by Odysseus. Thus the hero had his heroism or courage as well as his reckless pride that invited more danger for him. Thus in both case pride begets downfall or at least a temporary harm (as I case of Odysseus who at least had the modesty to offer a sacrifice to Zeus in order to gain protection).

Another similar instance could be drawn from the present day hero, George W. Bush, president of America, whose pride encouraged him to avenge the 9/11 incident and hence launch the horrifying and inhuman phase of the war against the Iraq. His arrogance leads to a continuation of deaths on both sides. Besides the massive destruction of innocent lives in Iraq, the American soldiers (2577 as on August, 2006) have also risked and lost their lives. According to Bush, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”  Estimated number of Iraqi civilians (men, women, and children) killed in Bush’s war since Saddam Hussein was ousted is 38,960. (“Where Bush’s Arrogance Has Taken Us” informationclearinghouse.info) Another statement that reveals his pride and arrogance is:

“I’m the commander — see, I don’t need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.”
George W., August 2002.

(“Where Bush’s Arrogance Has Taken Us” informationclearinghouse.info)

Thus instances of pride are evident in all times, however taking a lesson from Iliad and Odyssey the present day leaders need to master modesty and diplomacy to win the world. Bush has however, till not faced the decline despite his enormous pride.

References:

Homer, The Odyssey,  http://www.mala.bc.ca/~Johnstoi/homer/odyssey9.htm

Homer and Fagles, The Iliad, 1990, Penguin Publishers, pp. 1-683

“Where Bush’s Arrogance Has Taken Us”, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article14665.htm

Place Your Order Now
Academic Writing Services:

Business / Professional Writing Services:

Free Essay Tips / Writing Guides:
Tags:
100% Satisfaction Guarantee

We will revise your paper until you are completely satisfied. Moreover, you are free to request a different writer to rewrite your paper entirely, should you be unhappy with the writing style, level of research, communication, etc.

100% Authentic Research & Writing Guarantee

We guarantee that you will receive a fully authentic, 100% non-plagiarized work. Otherwise, we will just give you your money back.

100% Confidentiality & Privacy Guarantee

No one will ever find out that you have used our service. We guarantee that your personal information as well as any other data related to your order(s) will remain confidential to the extent allowed by law. It will not be shared with any third party unless you provide a written consent.