Death of a salesman written is a ply written by Arthur Miller, an American poet and song writer in 1949. The play was quite captivating upon its release winning several awards including but not limited to the Pulitzer Prize and the tony award. With Willy Loman playing the role of the main character, the writer uses the play to describe the misconception of the American dream among the middle class. Willy lives his entire life with the thirst of finding greatness. As modernization and industrialization slowly comes in, Willy tries to make both ends to meet in providing the best for his family but encounters as many obstacles as he never expected. Willy finds himself getting consumed by the materialistic fire and realizes that the only to survive was by keeping up with his friends and the surrounding people with regard to possessions and success (Miller). He is constantly concerned with the rate at which he is losing his money and the inability to pay for the appliances. He regrets for not having accompanied Ben to Africa where Willy feels that there is more fortune than the miseries in America. Arthur Miller presents his ideas about the misinterpretation of the American Dream through a series of events surrounding various characters as he develops the plot of the play encompassed with thematic symbolism.
The development of the author’s ideas and target point finds place in the context of the play by making use of the main character, Willy who represents the American middle class with a misconception of the American Dream. Willy engages in a serious search for greatness in his entire past life but fails to find self-realization associated with a disastrous hero. He however gains incomplete truth and understanding of the dream from his suicide-like resolution. Despite the fact that Willy achieves a thorough comprehension of who he is together with the fundamental make up of sales professionally, he fails to recognize his failure and the disloyalty he has towards himself through a camouflaged structured life aimed at escaping nature’s reality. Willy is unable to visualize his spiritual and emotional and spiritual life as a literal “low man”. He is also filled with the passion to discover the reality of greatness from a personalized a mind-set definition and understanding of nature. Because of the quagmire in which he resides, filled with lies and self deceptions, his critics completely consider his self-realization as trash. He fails to face the reality form a realistic point and aims at reaching that which seems to be like a mirage in his bumpy journey for greatness. Additionally, Willy is insensitive to the level of being unable to recognize the painful love offered by his family. This incapacity presented in the play is considered as the climax of his tragedy of self-destruction. With the passion of his dream still in him, he engages every gear of himself in ensuring that his son Bill is left with an inheritance that is to help him realize the American Dream. Sarcastically his two sons Biff and Hap follow his footsteps to become failure marking the pinnacle of the conflict throughout the play (Yasinski 11).
There are several themes presented in the play running right from the start to the end. The notion of reality against illusion is immensely portrayed by the author through events and events surrounding the life of many characters in the play. Characters like Biff, Happy and Linda are unable to understand and separate reality from illusions just like the main character. However, as the events unfold in the play, it is evident that Wily is the one who suffers most from the effects of the two odds (Sparknotes 101 literature 191). Willy believes in being great as the aim of the American Dream and lives with the conviction of fortune and success for himself and his son, Biff. He disrespects being a salesman but contradicts the whole idea by referring to himself as the New England. Although Willy has done completely nothing by the time he’s thirty four years, his father goes around talking about the achievements of his son. On the contrary, his brother Ben constantly features in his mind with great successful business ideas. As a result, Willy tries to live up to the standards set by his successful brother but finds it unworkable when the play ends. Among all the characters, Biff realizes who is and escapes the wrath of illusion (Miller). The author also focuses on the theme of the American Dream which drives Willy’s desire to realize greatness. The dream is however misinterpreted by the middle class Americans who believe in material achievement.
The author further uses symbolism to develop his themes and capture the attention of his audience. He uses seeds and the garden to denote the desire of Willy to have greatness. They also represent the fact that Willy remains with his family even as he pursue success in his mind which does not materialize. He dies leaving nothing behind in form of achievements. On the other hand, the jungle represents the painful reward of life. Ben tells Willy that there is a lot of diamond in the jungle although it is dark. Willy hopes for success in the business but finds nothing. He lives without fortune and finds no diamond. The jungle also represents the free market of the twentieth century which is highly criticized by the author. Biff’s stealing represents the impossibility of Willy’s success (Sparknotes 101 literature 192). Biff believes in finding himself at the top without working for and fails like his father. Stockings represent the adulterous nature of Willy who gives stockings to a prostitute without realizing whom they belonged to, Linda.
The Death of a Salesman is a play which clearly portrays the American life in the mid twentieth century when the every person was seeking success. With a misinterpretation of the Dream among the middle class, the Author gives the impact this had to the lives of millions who lived in illusions. The play utilizes major elements of literature like plot, characterization, and symbolism to develop various themes. There is a systematic flow of events with each action leading to another. These elements are quite significant to the author as he criticizes the American Dream.