“Death of a Salesman” is a 1949 play by Arthur Miller. It is a story about a worn out old man who works as a traveling salesman. He works tireless hours striving for success and hoping to achieve the American dream that seems to elude has grasp. This salesman’s Name is Willy Loman, The main character of the play. He has a son who stopped caring about school and is heading towards ending up like his father. Willy had a Brother who one day went into the jungle and came out a happy successful man, Willy strives to be like his brother but it is revealed later in the play that his brother is a hallucination whose appearance in the play makers Willy’s decent into regret, depression and insanity. Eventually it is discovered that Willy Had an affair and his son walk in on him, This Is why his son has little respect for him. As He dives further into madness he loses his job after a fight with his boss He opts to end his own life. Willy Has been considering suicide for some time but never brought up the courage to do it. He had hidden away a pipe which he could affix to his water heater to asphyxiate on carbon monoxide, on that night when he lost his job he tried kill himself but after having the pipe to his mouth he came to his senses and resolved to go outside and jump into traffic. At his funeral, to no surprise of the audience his only attendants where His wife and Son. His wife exclaimed that she finally made the last payment on the house. A subject that Wily brought up, when the house was paid off they would leave the city and retire.
The main character is The salesman Willy Loman, who after the stress of the job get to him , becomes delusional, depressed and constantly pushing his sons Biff and Happy to be better people, never satisfied with who they are or want to be. He Brings in money to his wife Linda so they can pay off the house and move to the country side which is the primary motive for the novel.
Biff and Happy are the next two major characters who are the sons of willy.
Biff Is the serious brother who confronts his failures and unlike willy, learns to accept them. He is a foil of sorts to Willy. Happy on the other hand is the more pleasant brother, like his name conveys he is generally a happy person. This however is not a blessing for Happy laks self awareness and never fully grasps the situation with his father.
Linda is the wife of willy an a largely static but major character in the play, Because she was cheated on her sons resent their father. Willy wants to take her to the country side as well which is the primary motive of the story.
The Play takes place in several places. Brooklyn, Manhattan and Boston as well as willy’s insane mind when he has those hallucinations of his brother. The time is post-war America in the 1940’s when the idea of the American dream was in full swing and came seeking wealth and opportunity in the big city. Most of the story takes place in the house and back yard of Willy Lomans house, a house which due to recent property developments, has been boxed in by apartments on its sides. This shows the natural beauty of nature being forced out and is the reason Willy wants to leave the city and move to the countryside. The story also partially takes place in Manhattan when Willy gets fired. He has an affair in Boston where one of his sons discovers it and tried to reconcile with his sons in a restaurant also in Manhattan ( It should be important to note here that the scene in the restaurant is one of the earliest examples of Willy’s madness a fight with his sons causes him to breakdown in the restroom). Part of the story also takes place In Willys mind or rather the hallucinations of his brother and a nice happy version of his family interacting with his brother. These worlds do collide in a violent fusion when Willy tries to force his son to ask like he did in the hallucination and talks to his dead brother in front of his family scaring them into thinking the stress of the job got to him.
Conflicts in the play
Man vs. . Man Willy is presented with this conflict twice in the novel. Once with his son biff in many instances when he pushes his son to be better. He also has this type of conflict in Manhattan with his boss when he argued for his job futilely.
Man vs. self Willy constantly faces self doubt and failure in his career and family. This conflict drvies the story.
Man vs. Nature is presented differently. In the play it is know that their house is in between two massive brick apartments effectively snuffing out the natural beauty around willy. The main reason why he wants to leave the city.
The First theme of the play is the American Dream. This is Willy’s untouchable goal. The theme has importance in that it shows the futility of Willy’s superficial beliefs and materialistic views.
Second is Abandonment. Willy Abandons dreams and goals and each time leave him in more despair. One example of this is when he chose no to be successful and go with his brother Ben to Alaska
Third is betrayal. Willy considers Biff’s lack of success betrayal on Willy’s behalf. He takes this failure as an insult and pushes biff to better himself because of it.
TH first predominant theme in the novel is the seeds in willy’s garden. He literally dose not reap what he sowed, his garden is a direct reflection of his life. The small vegetables it does manage to produce are symbolic of the food he can barely put on the table.
Secondly Diamonds symbolizes the wealth Ben made and Willy wants.
Third the rubber hose will has hidden in the basement. This is a symbol of Willy’s way out. His contingency plan for when he can’t cope with life anymore. On several occasions he attempts to use it but can never bring himself to end his life. HThr
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Death of a Salesman Setting" Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Death of a Salesman.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 14
Mar. 2013. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/salesman/
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