Affiliation Death of a Salesman Death of a salesman is no doubt the finest of Miller’s work. The play tells the story of sales man, Willy Lowman, who thinks highly of himself only because of his personal attractiveness and pleasant social manners. The play uses effective conflict, and as it progresses, the short-comings of the salesman are revealed. Not only is Willy eccentric and just living a dream, he is fully convinced that he lives in the different world which in the end leads him to suicide after facing reality (Miller 1).
Death of a Salesman: Dramatic conflicts
The playwright uses dramatic conflicts to create suspense and also to create continuity. Dramatic conflict is a literary device which is necessary to drive the play forward. Sometimes the protagonist may suffer to fiddle with the persisting ideology. Here, Willy Lowman submits himself to the materialistic America. He has high dreams about his son Biff. He even compares him with Adonis and Hercules. Willy’s dream for his son is quite different from reality. Thus, the hero is presented as having issues identifying his place in the present society. The tug of war between frustration and confusion is strong in the mind of Willy (Miller 2).
Willy’s most prominent delusion is that success is dependent upon popularity and personal attractiveness. Willy builds his entire life around this ideology and teaches it to his children. The failure to face unpleasant realities creates another conflict in the play. He wings to empyrean heights when he hears of Biffs’ plan to start a business, and he never thinks about the funds to be raised for that. The conflict arises in the drama due to his silly airs and self entitlement. He is unwilling to take the job offered by Charley due to its perceived degrading value.
The most identifiable stasis is in Willy’s state of mind. He is unwilling to change his way of thinking and takes his illusions and wrong notions to his grave. Instead of accept a job offered, he does not see any other way to his persistent problem of not having anything to give his son.
The stasis in the story is depicted when Willy Loman goes about business in his ordinary world. Willy, unable to drive properly, comes back and then complains that Biff is a lazy burn’ (Halliwell 2). Throughout the story, the fight between father and son does not change, and this leads many struggles. This is the point where is intrusion or ‘inciting action’ comes in. Linda analyses the reasons for Willy’s improper driving, and aggravates his suicidal tendencies (Halliwell 2).
For the hero, Willy, his return is not unusual. But all others in the family notice his strange behavior especially his soliloquy, which is a sign, of his mental disintegration. He was fighting with himself and his ideals. He brings about his own doom. The characters surrounding him also suffer a lot. The final climax occurs towards the end as Linda, along with her sons, stand near the grave in the hope of his return.
All the action of the play alternates between intrusion and climax. After returning from the trip, Willy is more aware of his son’s plight. His dream for his sons are quite different from reality.Biff is admirable, but at the same time, he thinks lowly of Bernard. But at the end, Bernard becomes a successful lawyer. Later we see both Biff and Happy running away from their father as well as from their failure. Biff is sad to see the intrusion of a prostitute in the life of his father. Biff recognizes his identity. But Willy’s does not recognize himself rather he recognizes his unfulfilled dreams. The climax is a point after which nothing preferably happens in the play. Here, the climax starts at when Biff and Willy quarrels each other. Later, feeling sorry for hurting his father, he embraces him and cries. This emotionalism touches Willy, who is at last convinced of Biff’s love and affection for him (Halliwell 3).
Ironically his display of love hastens Willy’s suicide as he decides that the only way to give a lift to his son is to commit suicide, and leave behind the insurance money for Biff. Unable to rise above the economical quagmire, Willy selects suicide as the new answer to his old problem. Here, the play attains a new equilibrium. Biff’s reaction to his father’s death is different (Grimes 1). At the grave yard, Biff says that Willy‘s tragedy was due to his wrong dreams. Biff has become sane and sensible, and decides to discontinue his career in New York, and start a business with Happy.
According to Martin Halliwell in his book, American culture in the 1950s, not only does the death of a salesman depict human suffering, it is a phenomenon most people in the modern world can relate to. It fundamentally depicts failure to succeed in real life and the eminent escape to the world of fantasy, which leads to depression and death in the end. The pain of lost hopes and dreams can be felt, and it brings about an untold suffering to those left behind.
In essence, Miller in this book indicates how society looks down on people who have failed and does not actually think much of them. However, it also emphasizes the importance of flexibility because Willy could have prevented his own death by accepting the job he was given.
The failing of Willy in his career and his dreams mean an end to him because his state of mind is in stasis. His only image of success is a terrific job, and that is all. Instead of facing the fact that his son is a nonstarter who has not done anything substantial with his life at the age of 32, he continues to lie to himself that he is doing extraordinary things while away from home. When finally he faces his failure, he is forced to commit suicide to help him (Grimes 1).
1. Miller Arthur, The death of a salesman, Viking press, 1949
2. Halliwell Martin, The American life in the 1950s, Edinburg University press, 2007
3. Grimes Ronald, Readings in ritual studies, Prentice Hall, 1996