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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Naturally, in order to understand how the play itself is autobiographical, one must perform a great deal of background analysis into the early life of Arthur Miller. Once this has been completed, it is readily seen that Arthur Miller’s protagonist Willy Loman is likely a direct representation of his own father – Isadore Miller. 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; specifically the perennial fear of abandonment that is felt not only by Willie Lowman, but by his family. The first evidence of this fear of abandonment is with regards to the unbelievably high esteem that Willie Lowman has for an individual who gains the trust and respect of his business partners and/or clientele. An overarching theme of the entire play is the unnatural and dogged determination that this level of love and respect, on the part of his clients, is what defines him from the faceless mass of individuals throughout society. Ultimately, rather than merely representing a narrow-minded salesman that struggles to find a place in this world and define himself differently from others, the greatest level of understanding that can be provided from a psychological standpoint is the fact that Willy Lowman is in fact terrified of the reality of abandonment and censure (Hooti & Farzaneh 19). This fear keeps him feverishly working and preaching the gospel of self sufficiency and good relations with clients to any and all who will listen. Rather than viewing Willie Lowman as a completely and entirely deranged individual, it is far better to understand his particular case from the standpoint of an individual that has traumatized from some previous instance; forever fearful that a life of abandonment and solitude will be his to live. But perhaps the greatest irony that is represented within Arthur Miller’s play is with regards to the fact that the greatest fear that Willy Lowman has is in fact realized. Unbeknownst to Willy Lowman, as he lies dying, the abandonment and ostracism from the very individuals that could have cared about him and would have otherwise helps to ameliorate the greatest fear that he had, were disassociated from him and ultimately standoffish. Although it is of course true that his two sons were by the side, as well as his loving wife, the level of disassociation it was represented within this particular scene helped to reinforce the irony of a man that was perennially fearful of the loss of relevance that he may have if he ever came to find himself in a position of being unloved and/or unneeded. 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
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Miller consciously undercuts several features of classical tragedy and his other writings prove that he felt the earlier models of tragic drama were unable to understand the modern situation. These models, based on the Aristotelian ideas of what constituted a tragedy, were unsuited for an articulation of the modern condition in general and the American one in particular.
This touch of human reality endears to which there is a great sense of emotional investment that the audience takes a journey along with the characters. The mark of the most unforgettable characters is not that they are larger than life that they are hard to forget but that they are inexplicably so human that we identify so much with them.
The conclusion from this study states that “Death of the Salesman” is a modern play based on the plot, characteristics and the development of the play. “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a viewed as a continuation of Miller's play, but has better organization and plot development making it be classified as a postmodern literature.
On its most fundamental level, Death of a Salesman depicts the disintegration of Willy's personality as he desperately searches for the moment in his memory when his world began to unravel. What appears to be true to the characters in Death of a Salesman is often a far cry from reality, and this is communicated numerous times throughout the play.
It will only be the manner of his death that will be expected and disclosed.
For a reader/audience, it would not be an exciting and attractive fiction if it is already known that the protagonist dies at the end of the story. The manner of his death and the motive for his death are not usually as inviting as having a victorious and adventurous major character.
Miller's play is already complex and delicate in itself. However, the overall effect of the production, with the aid of the actors, set, lighting and costumes not only created a surreal audio-visual experience to the audience but also generated deeply emotional and poignant scenes.
These parameters establish a married woman firmly within the household rather than in the surrounding community or society; her concerns must be focused strictly on her obligations as wife and mother, and social and economic constraints reinforce this confinement.
Of course, Loman is seeking happiness with money but he does not put in the hard work or the effort which is required in order to obtain the happiness he desires. Interestingly, Miller pondered over several different names for the play before
This paper explores Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller in the context of realism and postmodernism. According to the society of that time, realization of one’s dreams entailed hard work coupled with positivity that assumed challenges were insignificant obstacles found between a person and his or her American dream.
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