Death of a Salesman is a story that follows and mainly the main protagonist, a husband, father of two boys, and salesman, Willy Loman. The play’s name has a double meaning, the death being physically real as well as metaphorical. The play is split into two acts and is followed by a requiem. The play is displayed over the course of around twenty-four hours. Starting late on a Monday evening, transpires into the following day, Tuesday throughout the whole day, and into the late evening, until Willy Loman’s death. The play is set in the late 1940s in New York. Willy has a wife named Linda and they have two sons together named Biff and Happy. Willy himself isn’t the best salesman, nor husband or father to his family.
Biff is the eldest of his two sons and has more pressure put on him by his father to be a salesman like him, but he doesn’t want that for himself. A point has been made that Willy at one point in his marriage to Linda, had an affair and Biff caught him with this other woman, which further explains the tension between the two. In between bits of dialogue, Willy is slowly losing his mind and recollects memories from his past. Willy is having trouble making ends meet and ends up fired when he asks his boss if he could get more jobs closer to his home. It becomes apparent that he has thought of committing suicide throughout the play even being confronted by his family about it.
In the end, though, he ends up taking his car and crashing it, so his family could have the insurance money. The point Miller tries to make is that not everyone can become widely successful, sometimes even the “American dream” is out of reach. The important thing is to not live in the past and to focus on the present. Arthur Miller is showing the readers and audiences a man who is not in the same frame of mind and body like he used to be. This man is going through financial troubles as well as a strained relationship with members of his family. He wanted to be just like his father, as well as his son’s to be just like him. But we don’t always get what we want, and that is something we just have to accept.
He metaphorically was already dying/dead on the inside. He ends upending his life, not really considering what his family would feel once he was gone, despite the insurance money. There are a lot of elements in Miller’s work that have been gone over in this literature course. The first one that I thought of was modernism. The Death of a Salesman was a modern piece of literature. He writes of the struggles any of us can face, which wasn’t something typically written about at the time, which is also a common theme in some of the readings we’ve had in this class. Anyone can relate to these struggles, which makes it a great read for literature students.
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