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Millers Death of a Salesman - Book Report/Review Example

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The power of Miller's play lies in its stunning ability to elicit sympathy from the audience. Although harsh criticism has been leveled against the play by some, others may feel convinced that the emotion Miller has been able to generate is something more than cheap sentimentality or melodramatic pettiness…
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Millers Death of a Salesman
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate the characters' fragile grip on reality.
Some critics may argue that Willy is a tragic hero but while Willy's self-delusion is his primary flaw, this characteristic is not necessarily tragic since he neither fights against it nor attempts to turn it toward good. Loman returns from a business trip exclaiming, "I'm telling you, I was sellin' thousands and thousands, but I had to come home". His fabrications create so extreme a polarization with his incapacities that an acceptance of his own failure becomes impossible. In other instances, instead of reconciling himself to failure in business skills, Loman blames the responses of others - people do not "take" to him, they pass him by, find him too fat, poorly dressed, foolish, a "walrus". However, Loman moves one not with his mediocrity and failure but with the frustrated energies of his outreach beyond mediocrity and failure toward a relationship to society that constantly denied him. He is a bourgeois romantic. Loman wants success but the meaning of that need extends beyond the accumulation of wealth, security, goods, and status. As Arthur Miller said in an interview, "the trouble with Willy Loman is that he has tremendously powerful ideas." (Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman, Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem) but he yearns towards them more than he lives by them. He laments the loss of a bygone era; an age he thought had "respect", "comradeship" and "personality". These are the values he wants to see in the world he is presently living in. He has a skewed sense of success. For him, it was having coffee with the Mayor of Providence, in being recognized in places like Slattery's, Filene's, and the Hub, and by enjoying such good standing with New England policeman that he could park his car anywhere he liked without getting a ticket. His sense of self-value, then, depended upon the response of others.
Willy's frequent flashbacks to past events-many of which are completely or partly fabricated-demonstrate that he is having difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what he wishes were real. Bates suggests that one of the roles in which Willy tries to function is that of the "dutiful patriarchal male intent upon transmitting complex legacies from his forebears to his progeny." The episodes which support that generalization, however, do not indicate that Willy has any clear ideas what legacy he has received from his forebears. He speaks vaguely of his father who was "better than a carpenter," who made flutes. Willy's imagined conversations with his dead brother, Ben, also demonstrate his loose grip on reality. He pleads with his brother to tell him something that he can transmit. "Please tell about Dad. I want my boys to hear. I want them to know the kind of stock they spring from. All I remember is a man with a big beard, and I was in Mamma's lap, sitting around a fire....'" Later he complains to Ben of his fears, that "sometimes I'm afraid that I'm not teaching them the right kind of - Ben, what should I teach them" Part of this tragedy is that what he has taught them does not look to him like what he wanted them to have learned. Willy's mind is full of delusions about his own abilities and accomplishments and the abilities and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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