Essay on Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller


The play, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, takes issue with those in America who place too much stress upon material gain, at the expense of other, more admirable human values. Miller uses flashbacks to provide exposition, to foreshadow the upcoming tragedy, and most importantly to reveal character traits. An analysis of the main character, Willy Loman, illustrates the underlying theme that the concern over material success breaks down the bonds between men that form the basis of a smooth-functioning society.
In a sense there are two Willy Lomans in this play. There is the present broken, exhausted man in his sixties, soon to end his life, and there is the more confident, vigorous
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The father-son conflict between Willy and Biff is complex. First of all, there is a strong personal attachment. He wants Biff to love him. He remembers the fondness shown for him by Biff as a boy, and he still craves this. At this point, however, relations are strained. Although Willy shies away from remembering so painful an episode, he knows in his heart that his affair with the Boston woman left the boy bitterly disillusioned. Feeling some sense of guilt, Willy fears that all of Biff’s later difficulties may have been really attempts to get revenge. In other words, Biff failed to spite Willy. Although outwardly resenting such alleged vindictiveness, Willy still wants to get back the old comradeship, even if he has to buy it dearly. For instance consider when he asked Ben, “Why can’t I give him something and not have him hate me?” and his final moment of joy and triumph occurs when he exclaims, “Isn’t that remarkable? Biff… he likes me!”
On the other hand, Willy is also emotionally involved with Biff because his son’s success of failure is his own. By becoming rich and influential, the handsome, personable Biff was slated to provide his own modest advancement. By making his fortune in the business world, Biff would prove that Willy had been right in turning down…