17 Oct 2009

Essays on Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman is a play about a struggling family.  The main story is regarding the father Willy Loman, a failing salesman.  As his wife begs him to try and ask his boss to remain in New York, Willy begins to daydream regarding a younger time in his life.  His sons begin to talk about a job out in Alaska where they could make much more money.  Willy also begins to dream about his Mistress and hiding her from his family.  After the loss of his dismal excuse of a job, Willy snaps, driving off into the darkness of night.  Though it is never said what happened specifically, insinuation, built upon by a conversation over an insurance policy on Willy, is that Willy committed suicide for his family to obtain the insurance money.

Death of a Salesman is written by Arthur Miller.  Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915.  His playwright career started when he was still in college.  Death of a Salesman, written as a stage play in 1949, won Miller a Pulitzer Prize.  The main idea of the conflict in Death of a Salesman is believed to have come from the conflicted relationship between Miller and his Uncle Manny Newman.  It is said that the emotional trauma within the main character, Willy Loman, came from his Uncle Manny.

In the course of this play, it is revealed those once happy relationships between Willy Loman and his sons Biff and Happy have turned bitter.  The interactions between them over matters of money and opportunity show the rapid building of the story until the climactic moment of Willy’s suicide.  Also Willy’s connection with his wife and his Mistress gives us a deep understanding of the problems that he was having before his death.

Death of a Salesman, though focusing on the struggles of a single family, is considered to be a general indictment against free enterprise, and in a way it is.  More precisely, it is an indictment against individuals choosing a career based upon the expectations of others or upon the expectations of ever increasing income.  This is discussed by the survivors at the end of the play as the characters debate who or what is to blame for Willy’s death

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