"Death of a Salesman," by Arthur Miller
The play “Death of a Salesman,” by Arthur Miller is a story depicting a man’s dreams, hopes, and ideas that never happened. Willy Loman, the main character of the play is a salesman in the 1940s era. Willy wants nothing but his family to have the American dream. The composition is a memory play, which shifts from past to present. Willy’s struggle with reality and his family drives him insane. Willy lives vicariously through his son, Biff’s high school success. When Biff did not finish high school and go on to college, his father’s life was incomplete. The play depicts Willy as a prideful father. As a salesman he believes he has the respect of others and has a high reputation. His sons seem to believe the same way about him in his youth. When Biff discovers out about his father’s affair it leads to a feeling of betrayal. The affair affects the father and son relationship and neither fully recovered from it. The Loman family is full of lies and deceit with hopes of not living in confinement and being set free. With all the issues and stresses, Willy appears to lose control mentally and finally leads him to his death.
Strategies and Devices Used Arthur Miller uses the setting of the house to symbolize his ideas. In the beginning, the house was once a beautiful place to live with trees and scenery. The house is now becoming enclosed by large apartment buildings surrounding it. The surrounding buildings act as a hold on the home and the family. All the beauty of the house is gone, left only with gray dismal emptiness. The play describes the family as happy, until a drastic change occurs. The home’s yard even stops growing plants. Willy’s interest in acquiring freedom from life’s issues and being confine to a place also relates to the city confining his way of life. Willy has a fascination with his brother Ben and father, how they traveled to Africa and Alaska and became rich. The two countries in contrast with New York symbolize freedom and confinement in his life. Willy feeling as if he failed at times is envious of his brother’s wealth. He imagines his brother Ben telling him “The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy” (Miller, 2014). The quote is a symbol of risk versus reward. Willy has a life insurance policy and he knows if he dies that his sons would receive money. He is so blind by his passion for him and his sons to succeed, he disregards his own life. Willy jumps into his car at the end of the play and commits suicide.
As one reads through the play, one needs to use imagination. Willy recites in…