Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, is deemed as one of the greatest American dramas ever written. The play focuses on themes such as the American Dream and failure to achieve it. Willy Loman is depressed because he has not achieved this dream and his life turns tragic when he tries to hang himself after finding out that his insurance policy is worthless. He tries to kill himself because he has given up his dreams of success and focuses on trying to live happily in the present with his family. His wife convinces him not to go through with it, but he still feels hopeless about failure in life.
At the end of Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman decides that enough is enough—he can’t live anymore if this is how it’s going to be. Because his life has not followed the American dream he expects it should have gone by, Willy kills himself in an attempt to make things right for all those around him; primarily his sons. Initially he promises Biff that when they get home, “We’ll have a hot fudge sundae”, but he cannot keep his promise because very soon after that Biff leaves, the phone rings and Willy is informed of Ben’s death.
Willy goes back into reality confused by what just happened; he wanted to make this stop; his life was not working out as planned. He does not know how to deal with the pressures of everyday life. Death for him becomes an escape from all these problems. As Willy says “It’s the same as dying… I told ya… You can’t take it with you. ” Death brings everything to a halt, which is exactly what Willy wants, he only wishes it would happen sooner than later. Death is a way out for him.
Death analyzes Willy Loman’s problems and the ultimate failure of his life by pointing to the American Dream as an unattainable goal, which causes Loman to suffer both psychologically and emotionally. Willy has reached his final stage of life after admitting that he failed in life; he can’t face it anymore so he commits suicide. Death of a Salesman is often referred to as one of Arthur Miller’s greatest works because it deals with issues such as morality, ethics, social responsibility, guilt, success and failure.
Death provides Willy with an escape because even though living does not provide him happiness or comfortability it at least gives him hope that tomorrow will be better than today was—except it isn’t. Death becomes his escape from reality and finally gives Willy what he wants—a new life, even though it’s not really living. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is recognized as one of the best plays ever written because it provides readers with an experience that can be related to in this day and age. Although the American Dream has changed drastically since Death of a Salesman was written, some parts are still relevant today.
There are many characters in Death of a Salesman, but none more important than Willy Loman himself who is crucial to the plot development in order for you to understand where Miller is coming from when writing his play. One might think “Why would I want to read about someone who is so depressed, has an incredibly bleak future that probably ends up with him killing himself? ” Death of a Salesman explores themes that are not normally discussed in American society at present because they’re no longer relevant to the American Dream.
Death of a Salesman was written by Arthur Miller in 1949 and it takes place in New York City in the 1940s during Willy Loman’s time. The play starts off with Biff Loman asking his father about what he should do after high school. Willy thinks Biff will “be successful” because if his son isn’t successful then it would make all the other characters who aren’t successful look bad, including himself. Willy tells Biff that success is measured by how much money a person makes and how much respect he gets from others.
Willy is incredibly hard on Biff because he wants his son to have a successful future, which is what Miller’s Death of a Salesman is about—a man who cannot live up to the American Dream. Death of a Salesman takes place in 1949 during an unspecified time period at the beginning of World War II—thus before the United States joined WWII. The Death of a Salesman is set in New York City—the center for commerce and business where everyone, including Willy Loman aspires to be successful. He does not make it there though because when you come down to it his life fails himhe failed himself and the American Dream.
Willy Loman’s weak points are revealed almost immediately in Death of a Salesman. He is very poorly educated and has no real skills to fall back on during the hard times. He works as a traveling salesman for years and spends all his money on new cars or items that he thinks will make him popular (for example, he buys an expensive watch). He is also shown as having inflated self-esteem; he believes himself to be well respected among his coworkers and friends even when those around him tell him otherwise (the quote “a man way out there in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine” depicts this).
He also has the American Dream thrust upon him constantly. This is first shown when his brother Ben suggests that he move to California for a new job opportunity there. Willy says, ” The American Dream? You mean — be rich? ” His own sons point out to him how unhappy he is as he tries to force them into being something they’re not (for example, Death of a Salesman , pg. 23). The American Dream equates happiness with material wealth and success as opposed to family or emotional well-being.
In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller portrays Willy Loman’s failure to achieve the American Dream and the subsequent emotional and financial cost to him, his family and everyone involved in his life. Willy Loman’s main problem is that he is unwilling or unable to adapt to changing circumstances. He has no formal education past high school and had worked for one company for years.
As more and more companies move manufacturing overseas for better and cheaper products, the sales industry has found new methods and technologies to adapt to these changes. Willy sees no need to do this and doesn’t want to put in the time or effort required. He also tries his hardest not to accept that his sons are growing up and don’t want him involved in their lives anymore. He has an idea of what he thinks life should be like for them (for example Death of a Salesman , pg 20-21) but they have moved on without him.