Identity Crisis in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essay

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Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is the story of a man much like Miller's father, a salesman, "whose misguided notions of success result in disillusionment" (Draper 2360). The suppression of the main character, Willy Loman's, true nature is a result of his pursuit of a completely misguided dream. The fraudulent and miserable existence this generates is accentuated by the father-son relationship he shares with his son Biff. Willy Loman has surrendered the life of himself and his sons to a dream of success, while this dream is not particularly reprehensible, it is nevertheless unsuitable for him and can only be kept alive at the expense of his selfhood. Because Willy does not know himself, his ambitions ?are based on false …show more content…

and live a simple life (Miller 72). In fact, his road accidents are attributed to these bouts of dreaming spent gazing at scenery, specifically trees (Corrigon 97). Whenever Willy reminisces, the pastoral melody of a flute, ?telling of grass and trees and the horizon,? is heard, affiliated with his trailblazing flute maker father (Miller 11). Willy?s father ?was a pioneer type? who traversed cross-country in a wagon, ?earning money by ingenious inventions and the making of flutes? (Corrigon 97). The pastoral dream, pursued through carpentry or farming, would have been more fitting for Willy?s nature than the cruel world of sales in the ?constraints of the modern city? (Corrigon 97). Willy feels best performing manual labor??planting a small garden, building a swing, or putting a new addition on the house??but cannot grasp the happiness these achievements bring (Nelson 119). Willy is somewhat aware that he is not cut out for commercial success because the ?falsity of his existence? torments him (Nelson 131). Willy?s anguish is best expressed in his fruitless attempts to plant a garden: ?the crumbling salesman?s last vain attempt to accomplish something, the dying ember of the agrarian frontier dream? (Nelson 122). Willy has ?given his real nature a horrible wrench in an attempt to mould it? into the strained life of a salesman in a big city (Sharma 370). In short, this repression has obliterated his true identity, quite obvious in comparison to his son Biff. Miller

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