Loss of Identity in Death of Salesman

Death of salesman addresses the loss of identity and the inability of man to accept change between himself and the society. The play is a medley of flashbacks, dreams, confrontations, and arguments, all of which make up the final day of Willy Loman’s life. There are three major themes within the play. These themes are denial, inconsistency, and order versus disorder. Each member of the Loman family is leading a life with denial and perpetuation of a cycle of renunciation for others. Willy Loman does not consider to accept the fact that he has the traits of a middling salesman. He strives for his elegance of the American dream which is bound by accomplishment and bad status, even when he is obliged to repudiate the reality in order to attain it. Willy chooses to retreat to the past events and memories which he is known to have accomplished them, instead of sticking to his acknowledgement that his success is not well-known.

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Willy’s favorite memory is bound by several memories of life. One of these memories is that of Biff’s last football match. Willy was promised a descent by Biff, and this makes him impatient to tell his customers about it. His son is proud about him, and this fact makes him consider himself a famous man (Jia, and X 9) Willy’s two sons, Biff and Happy, resemble him in terms of character of manipulating reality and they practice it throughout their lives, much of their disadvantage. It happens that in the end of the play, Biff admits that he has been affected just like Willy. Linda is the only character that has observed and realized that Loman family lives with too much inconsistency, while she goes along with Willy’s fantasies in order to spare the fragile state of the mind. The second key theme of the play is inconsistency. During the course of the play, there are instances where Willy’s behavior is riddled with contradictions. The only thing that is consistent about Willy is his contradictions. This theme is spread all over, from the beginning of Act 1 Scene 1. This scene reveals Willy’s tendency, whereby he refers to Biff as a lazy bum, and then contradicts himself later by stating that the same person is hardworking and responsible.

The fact throughout the play remains that Biff is not a lazy fellow, but the sentiments made by Willy at the beginning of the play tend to confuse the audience, who are dragged to become a symbol of his character. Through his behavior of uncertainness, Willy has been unable to appreciate the reality and his intentions to influence the past in an attempt to assume the present events (Smith and David 60). An example of these events is that Willy cannot appreciate the fact that Biff does not accord him any further regards because of the affairs of Willy. Instead of accounting for their relationship as one that is irreconcilable, Willy reforms back to particular times when Biff used to respect him. As the play goes on, Willy disassociates himself more than any other time from the present as his problems become too many to respond to, calling for extra attention that could be unnecessary. The third major theme of the play is order versus disorder. This theme is directly linked to Willy’s retreats into the past.

Each moment when Willy reconnects with the past, he does so in order to disagree with the current events, especially if the present is too fragile to consider for acceptance. At the course of the play, it is clear that Willy spends most of his moments reflecting the past as a means of restoring his life to be orderly as before (Smith and David 60). The more disintegrated and disastrous reality tends to be, Willy still finds reason for the necessity to create an alternative reality even if he may be required to dwell alone in the past. This fact is illustrated well during the moment when Willy was fired. As the play continues, Ben appears and Willy submits that there is nothing that he tried and worked out in his favor, and therefore he did not know what to do. To confuse the conversation, Ben switches to talk about Alaska and proposes to offer Willy a job. Immediately during this context, Linda appears and convinces Willy to stick to sales the way Dave Singleman does.

The encouragement by Linda gave him hopes to believe that he can be successful like Singleman. It has built in him a memory that distracting him from the reality that he has been fired from his job. ConclusionThe three themes discussed in this essay work hand-in-hand to create an environment in which the audience are involved in the noticing the identity of the man wasting away.

The play continues to cause effects to the audience as it allows them to put themselves in the shoes of the characters. Willy’s character affects many audience because in one way or another, many must have undergone several emotional moments like self-depreciation, failure and regret. Annotated bibliographyJia, X. U. “A Tense Conversion Approach to Western Narrative Drama from the Perspective of Tempo-spatial Reference Framework””A Case Study of The Death of Salesman.”Journal of Guangdong University of Education4 (2017): 009.This source is unique because of its illustration of the basic cognitive categories in human being. This source takes the play as a case study of the flavour of native drama. It also relates the play with real life situations, by drawing illustrations from the characters of the play. The source is relevant to my research essay because it generates cognitive mechanism towards high frequent tense conversion. This conversion is based on the various spaces that include, embodied language space and disembodied language space. There is also the use of combined language space.Smith, David. “Death of a Salesman.”The Arthur Miller Journal12.1 (2017): 60. The source is unique because it describes how the international community of readers perceives it. The source illustrates the character traits of the characters. It also touches on the main themes of the play. The source is relevant to my research essay because it gives a clear explanation of the major themes of the play. It links the themes directly to the main characters in the play. It also touches on the possible effects of the audience on the use of different styles and character traits. Works cited Jia, X. U. “A Tense Conversion Approach to Western Narrative Drama from the Perspective of Tempo-spatial


  • Framework A Case Study of The Death of Salesman.Journal of Guangdong University of Education4 (2017): 009.
  • Smith, David. “Death of a Salesman.”The Arthur Miller Journal12.1 (2017):
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Loss Of Identity In Death Of Salesman. (2019, May 31). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from

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