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A study of Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman as a modern tragedy - Research Paper Example

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This paper shall attempt to understand the tragic underpinnings of Miller’s play and the subsequent social commentary that the play makes through the character of Willy Loman…
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A study of Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman as a modern tragedy
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Download file to see previous pages In Death of a Salesman, Miller brings about social and existential questioning through the unlikely motif of commerce. The profession of a salesman is one that is intrinsically connected to a consumerist economy. If one bears in mind that the play was written only a few decades after the Great Depression in 1949, it would perhaps be apt to equate Willy’s professional failure with the play’s implicit criticism of America’s relentless pursuit of material prosperity. However, the most important aspect of Willy’s profession is the suggestion that lingers throughout the play – that Willy barters not merely goods but also his soul. In the essay “Success, Law, and the Law of Success: Re-evaluating Death of a Salesman’s Treatment of the American Dream,” Galia Benziman writes, “Through the representation of this salesman’s emotional collapse, the drama voices the playwright's resentment against the damaging and demeaning power of the American ethos of consumption and private economic success on the individuals who uphold and nourish it”. Therefore, in his ceaseless and futile pursuit for success and happiness, Willy Loman loses more than his job; he also loses his individuality and his integrity, and herein lies the play’s depiction of the tragic....
In the essay “Success, Law, and the Law of Success: Re-evaluating Death of a Salesman’s Treatment of the American Dream,” Galia Benziman writes, “Through the representation of this salesman’s emotional collapse, the drama voices the playwright's resentment against the damaging and demeaning power of the American ethos of consumption and private economic success on the individuals who uphold and nourish it” (Benziman). Therefore, in his ceaseless and futile pursuit for success and happiness, Willy Loman loses more than his job; he also loses his individuality and his integrity, and herein lies the play’s depiction of the tragic. At numerous points in the play it is made clear that Willy’s wife and sons perceive his life and subsequent suicide to be replete with pathos. However, it is made amply clear that despite Willy’s ideas about the great achievements of salesmanship, his dream of success is deeply flawed and shall never be realized. Significantly, this sense of impending failure is felt most acutely by Willy. This self-reflexivity is seen in his confession to his imagined image of Ben: “I still feel-kind of temporary about myself” (Miller). This realisation, however, does not deter him from continuing to search for success as he pitifully asks Bernard to help him understand the “secret” of success. This image of temporariness or incompleteness is perhaps the work’s commentary on the American zeitgeist as envisioned by the idea of the American Dream. America, imagined by the early settlers as the New World, was a country in the making, unlike its European counterparts. However, unlike Willy Loman whose feeling ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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