Written init was a brave attempt to challenge the conformity, reigning beliefs of an average American. Arthur Miller the author, brought up a number of important themes, that could not leave the audience indifferent. They are both various and deep:
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.Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: Introduction Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman () is considered to be both the playwright's masterpiece and a cornerstone of contemporary American drama.
This play gained a number of honors and awards including, the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.
Death of a Salesman Death of a Salesman Essay Death of A Salesman By Arthur Miller We can't all become what we want to be and further more, others can't become what we want them to be. In the play Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller, Willy wants to become a very successful, big, respected salesman.
Try Our Friends At: The Essay Store. Free English School Essays.
We have lots of essays in our essay database, so please check back here frequently to see the newest additions. How to Write an Introduction to Essay. The main purpose of the introduction is to give the reader a clear idea of the essay’s focal point. It must get the reader’s attention as it is the part when he decides if the essay is worth reading till the end or not.
Arthur Miller’s “Death of a salesman” is a very complex play that reveals the loss of the American Dream and life disillusionment. Introduction: Arthur Miller’s “Death of a salesman” describes the life of a sixty-year-old salesman who has not really achieved anything in his life personally nor has gained financial prosperity for his family.