Aristotle held that tragedy portrayed the downfall of a king or noble, whose fall from grace was the result of a tragic flaw—generally held to be hubris, or an excessive amount of pride. For Willy, the success of that dream hinges on appearance rather than on substance, on wearing a white collar rather than a blue one.
It is this snobbery, combined with a lack of practical knowledge, that leads to his downfall. Indeed, much of the lasting popularity of Death of a Salesman both in the world of the theater and in the canon of English literature, lies in its treatment of multiple themes. Too didactic or moralistic for some modern readers, who see the author as heavy-handed, the play nevertheless raises many pertinent questions regarding American culture.
Many younger readers have even credited it with preventing them from making the same mistakes committed by the characters. Chief among these themes is an indictment of the capitalist nature of the American Dream—the belief that through the pioneer virtues of hard work, perseverance, ingenuity, and fortitude, one might find happiness through wealth.
Implicit within this dream, however, is the assumption that money leads to fulfillment, regardless of the type of work that one does in order to attain it. While Willy himself was never successful as a salesman, he remains confident that his son Biff will be able to make it big in business because of his good looks and his past glory as a high school football star.
Willy makes the error of celebrating popularity over know-how, style over substance. The way in which this theme informs the play is also the key to its form, since Willy constantly relives the past through a series of flashbacks. These scenes present Biff and Happy as they appeared in high school, providing the audience with a glimpse into the happy past that shaped the unhappy present.
Another theme thus emerges: Instead, he took a series of menial jobs and wandered aimlessly, only to return home at the age of thirty-four, unsure of both his identity and his purpose.
Yet, when Biff confronts his father in the final scene, he has an epiphany, a sudden burst of knowledge: The house was surrounded by space and sunlight. Willy was a young man with ambitious hopes for the future, and his house represented a space in which he could expand his dreams.
In the present, the house is hemmed in on all sides by apartment units. Willy is a much older man, and his chances of achieving his dreams are much slimmer. His home now represents the reduction of his hopes. There is less room to expand, and the sunlight does not even reach into his yard. In the past, the house was the site of hopeful departure and triumphant return.
Willy would set out each week to make a load of money. When he returned, his worshipful sons greeted him, and he whispered into their eager ears his hopes to open his own business.
When the play opens, Willy returns to his home a defeated man, unable to complete his latest business trip, and with his argument with Biff left unresolved. Since his father left him with nothing, Willy feels an acute need to put his sons—especially Biff—on the right path in life. He convinces himself that he is capable of doing so, which leads to his inflated sense of self-importance as when he tells his young sons about how well known he is in New England.
Death of a Salesman Literary Analysis Essay Words | 4 Pages. Trent Beebe Beebe 1 Mr. Arena 4th hour AP Lang & Comp 12/17/09 Death of a Salesman Essay The story, Death of a Salesman, is a story that has many literary devices that help to make it the deep and riveting story that has become an American classic.
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller - Death of A Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, is a play based on the turmoil within an average American family.
Death of a Salesman essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Death of a Salesman Homework Help Questions What is the impact of Willy Loman's ambition on himself and others in Death of a Salesman? Death of a Salesman was first published in
Comparing Death of a Salesman and The American Dream In Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman and Edward Albee’s The American Dream, Willy Lowman and Mommy possess the trait of superficiality. Their priorities are to look good and be liked, and this contributes to their misguided paths to reach success. Death of a Salesman is a tragedy play based on middle class salesman called Willy Loman. He lives in an old house middle of developed city with his wife Linda and two sons, Biff and Happy. In a tragedy, the story details the downfall of the protagonist. The character fails as a .