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Death of a Salesman - Essay Example

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Name Date Course Section/# Title: Arthur Miller’s Play “Death of a Salesman” as an Analysis of Middle Class Suburban Life and Meaning Although there is an unbelievably high number of individual themes with which to examine in Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman”, one would be remiss if they did not consider the strong autobiographical overtones that pervade the work…
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Death of a Salesman
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Download file to see previous pages Yet, this autobiographical nature should not be considered merely as a means of Arthur Miller relating a story; rather, it has a correlation with respect to the way in which life is understood and represented within middle class America during the time period in question. Miller’s own early life was eerily similar to that of what the reader is made aware of Willy Loman’s life. For instance, Miller grew up in an upper-middle class neighborhood in New York City; the son of Polish Jewish immigrants. Miller’s own father was a successful businessman in a textile mill; which eventually employed 400 individuals. This successful lifestyle enabled the family to enjoy the luxuries of having a new car at a time when cars were still a novelty, attending private schools, and enjoying the occasional vacation. However, the good times would not last as the crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression shattered the family’s bliss. Miller’s father, out of work and out of options sold their home and moved to Gravesend, New York. It was during this time that young Arthur Miller was forced to take a bread route ever morning before school; delivering bread via his bicycle as a means to keep the family afloat. Although it is easy to say that such an experience doubtless had an effect on how Arthur Miller viewed the plight of the average man, this author would go a step further and claim that the hard times and difficult experiences that young Arthur Miller endured during the great depression and his family’s subsequent fall from wealth are autobiographically sketched in his play “Death of a Salesman”. The approach of this work is concentric upon the fact that the protagonist is ultimately faced with defeat, subsistence, and a form of tacit depression that pervades the entire piece. However, rather than allowing these emotions to be manifest, he continues to cling onto hope that some semblance of normality and/or some hope can be rescued from this rather pitiful existence by performing the “adequate” functions of a father and husband. Not surprisingly, his definition of what it means to be a good father or husband only revolves around his ability to generate income and provide for some level of material needs that his family and wife require. Just as with Revolutionary Road, the painstaking day to day travails of the middle class lifestyle were difficult to adjust to. Whereas “Death of a Salesman” was concentric specifically upon the travails and hardships the Willie Lowman experienced, “Revolutionary Road” helps to tell a more detailed and nuanced version of the same tale; incorporating the anxt, regret, and frustration that the middle class woman of the era would suffer as well (Revolutionary Road 2008). If one adopts this autobiographical approach to “Death of a Salesman”, many of the intrinsic lessons and interplay that exists between the family members and Willy Loman help to show the fleeting nature of success and the cold, cruel reality of pervasive failure that crushes the spirit of the entire family. As a means of showing this dichotomy, Willy Loman states, “Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it” (Miller 15). Rather than simply relating to the reader how difficult success is to achieve, Miller ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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