‘Death of a Salesman’ is a drama written by Arthur Miller in the late 1950’s based on the imaginary characters. This book is a brilliant prediction of problems created in the developing economies. It’s a story of the Loman family which is a perfect reflection of Modern Era families for deciding ‘Who they are and what exactly they can do & what they should do’. The family of Willy is in deep financial trouble & complex family dynamics. Miller further shows how this situation affects family thinking further and ends up with Willy’s suicide.
Conventions of Tragedy: As the general convention of a Tragedy, the protagonist dies at the end. The mindset, with which suicide is committed, is properly elaborated with two different ways of thinking of two sons. The problems in the family are not unsolvable, but thinking in the family makes it so.
Characters: Each character represents different thinking patterns with its different profile, though only the protagonist’s (Willy) in-depth thinking is explained while most of the other characters have flat roles. The two sons, Biff & Happy, represent two different thinking patterns of their father. Biff wants to do what he can & which interests him. Because of this, there are arguments between him and Willy. In the end, Biff understands the family lies and imaginary world of all the family members. Hap is the one who is not serious towards life and knows that he can continue like this if he keeps his father happy. Linda is a somewhat confusing character, as many of her actions are not elaborated in the play. Being a caring wife she should have understood the mental problems Willy is facing. She even allows Willy to commit suicide, not bothering to discuss the matter with her sons. The Loman family is surrounded by some of the positive characters, representing the fact that there are opportunities available. These characters are small ones, but they represent solutions to many problems.
Distinctive Style: Flashback is utilized very proficiently as it is not affecting the fluency of the story anywhere. In actuality, the flashbacks give the actual personality of Miller & it starts looking like a mystery but if we think of today’s life it certainly is a tragedy because of the tragic suicide protagonist. Arthur has repeated the quotes many times to convey his message clearly and he has done it very successfully.
The theme of the Play: The importance of accepting the failures positively and making them stepping stone to achieve success. Many other themes covered in the play are the dangers of modernity, gender relationships, being flexible towards opportunities & growth, and illness like nostalgia/madness.
The overall story shows that the writer has an excellent understanding of family dynamics. Arthur correctly points out the struggle between the internal self and the external self of a person which is dominated by the purpose of satisfying self-esteem. Whenever a person wants to perform his best, it has to come from the real self so that he can utilize his competencies. In the era of global competition, this message has the universal significance and reading this tragedy of Arthur Miller’s may be a great value addition for the reader.