Essay about A Shattered Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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A Shattered Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller


Death of a Salesman tells the story of a man confronting failure in the success-driven society of America and shows the tragic path, which eventually leads to Willy Loman's suicide.

Death of a Salesman?is?a search for identity, [Willy?s] attempt to be a man according to the frontier tradition in which he was raised, and a failure to achieve that identity because in [1942] and in [Brooklyn] that identity cannot be achieved. (Gross 321)
Willy is a symbolic icon of the failing American; he represents those that have striven for success in society, but, in struggling to do so, have instead achieved failure in the most bitter form.

Perhaps what is wrong with the society is
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?There are no flashbacks in this play but only a mobile concurrency of past and present, and this, again, because in his desperation to justify his life Willy Loman has destroyed the boundaries between now and then? (Hayman 38). Willy sometimes brings his illusions to the present, especially when he calls upon his dead brother, Ben.

Perhaps the chief virtue of the play is the attention that Miller makes us pay to [Willy] and his problem, for the man represents the lower middle class, the fifty-dollars-a-week-plus-commission citizen, whose dream is to live to a ripe old age doing a great volume of business over the telephone. (Clurman, Drama 308)
A major theme of the play illustrates the lost opportunities that Willy faces. Even Willy?s last name, Loman, suggests that Willy is a ?low man? on the totem pole (Hayman 38). The Wagner Company has recently stopped Willy?s salary and pays him only commission on the sales he makes, as if he were a beginner. Willy is eventually fired from the Wagner?s Company after thirty-six years as a traveling salesman. He feels that the death of Frank Wagner, Willy?s previous boss, has caused Willy to lose respect and power as a salesman.

?Willy?s plight is shown to be at least partly the result of his own character; he fails not only because of the pressure of the competitive system, but also because of his…