Death of a Salesman Essay

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Death of a Salesman
Candace Torres
American Studies

Death of a Salesman is a play founded on the exploited idea of the American Dream. It is set in the 1940’s, a period of time that was plagued by depression and hardship for many average families chasing the American dream. The devastating effects of the great depression and World War II were continuing to be felt by members of the middle class. The play focuses on the struggling Lowman family, husband, wife, and two grown sons. Willy , father, is the stressed head of the family, who dedicates his entire life to the idea of success. He takes the idea of the American dream to the extreme and in actuality, needs to realize that there can be meaning in ordinary life, not only in the lives of the wealthy. Willy’s desperate attitude and thoughts are displayed in many scenes, especially during the discovery of his affair, the pleading for his job, and the final discussion with Biff. The scene in which Biff discovers Willy’s affair s=doesn’t occur until the later half of the play. However, it is quite essential in understanding much of willys actions throughout the work. During this scene, Willy is out of town attending to business, as a salesman. He clearly doesn’t expect to be seen by any of his family especial by his prized, eldest son, Biff. Unfortunately for him Biff had flunked math and went to his father for assistance. Before the woman is revealed, Biff asks his father to speak with his math teacher to help acquire those crucial points needed to receive the credit. Biff says “Because if he saw the kind of man you are, and you just talk to him in your way, I’m sure he’d come through for me”(120). Biff speaks so highly of his father and then is completely let down and torn apart causing Willy to feel strong shame and embarrassment. After the woman is seen by Biff, he is distraught, losing all faith and respect in his father. Willy is obviously heart broken by this and considering his affinity for the American dream, feels terrible that his child will never look up to him again. This event sparks Biff’s downfall. A main aspect of the American dream involves the idea that your children should become more successful than you, the parent. Willy recognizes his failures and is tortured by it for the rest of his life.

Another scene that portrays Willy’s tormented necessity for success involves him begging and pleading for his job. Willy initially enters the office of his boss ask for his promotion in order to stay in town rather than travel. However, Howard (boss), uses the opportunity to instead fire Willy. Willy simply cannot except this and travels through an impressive range of emotions. He Explains, “I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ’Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of 84, into 20 or 30 different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so man people?” (81). Willy decided that he wanted to be a salesman based on a man he met when he was young, his name was Dave Singleman. From then on, he compared his life to that of Dave’s. When compared