Discussion: “Death of a Salesman”

Free «Discussion: Death of a Salesman» Essay Sample

1. Commonly, the term “tragedy” is associated with ancient Greek plays, which sounded solemn, pathetic and formal. A tragic hero possessed some extraordinary traits or strengths and fought for honorable and noble causes. However, the contemporary reality changes the attitude toward tragedy and adapts it to current circumstances. I think A. Miller’s play can be viewed as a tragedy in terms of the importance and actual issues it addresses. The main character of the tragedy represents not a single individual, but the entire social class with its troubles, worries, values and interests. Thus, a tragic ending is not an individual drama, but a problem of thousands of citizens facing the same destiny. In my opinion, a tragedy should not necessarily address some elevated topics or supernatural powers, but apply to the lives of ordinary people. From this standpoint, Death of a Salesman is a real tragedy which reflects the issues and daily problems faced by contemporary people.

2. Any usage of slang or dialects in the speech makes the perception of the literary work more difficult. On the contrary, in many cases, it is the only way to describe the characters’ personalities and opinions. The usage of emotionally colored words can tell the readers a lot about a character’s social background, level of education, status, profession, age and preferences. In plays, it is especially important as dialogues serve as the only source of information about the main characters. Therefore, I suppose utilization of specific vocabulary facilitates the analysis of characters and comprehension of the play’s subject and ideas. In such a way, the readers can immediately ascertain the appearance of the characters, settings and historical period as well as make the corresponding conclusions about the individuality of every character. However, if A. Miller had used description rather than dialogs, it would have been more appropriate to avoid slang and specific expressions. Thus, I think that the choice of a literary technique dictates the way of describing the main characters.


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3. The play clearly describes a society which is obsessed with money, wealth and gaining property. Each character in the play wants to be rich and influential. To a great extent, they share the same ideas of achieving the chosen aim. Thus, Willy, Biff, Happy and Bernard are certain that one should look attractive, confident and self-reliable to become wealthy. Moreover, they all regard money as the key to successful and prosperous life. However, as time flows, they begin to change their minds in regard to the importance of wealth. For instance, Biff does not want to enter the commercial life and prefers buying land in the West and working in the agricultural sphere. Happy seems to be convinced by this idea, though he is looking only for richness, and not for moral satisfaction from work. As for Willy, he cannot imagine his life without permanent work hustle, orders and clients.

In the long run, money spoiled the lives of every character. Willy ends up having a mental disorder, Happy feels lost and uncertain about his future, Biff lacks confidence and self-esteem due to his low position in the society, and Bernard cannot reach the harmony within himself because of the continuous work and numerous tasks.

4. In my opinion, the play addresses rather the social commentary, than family conflicts. Family conflicts result from different factors, which do not necessarily arise from any social dimensions and challenges. Therefore, I assume that the play aims at describing social imperfection and its negative influence on the individual’s well-being and welfare. The tragedy of Willy is not a single occurrence, it symbolizes the problem of the whole class connected with commerce, enterprises and finance. The play dwells on the way society influences thoughts, world perception and personal identity. Largely, those impacts are negative and even destructive. Thus, I am sure the author wanted to depict a social catastrophe, rather than family conflicts, though this aspect has also found a great reflection in the play.

5. Many works in American literature dwell on the issue of the American Dream. Interestingly, in many cases, the authors do not praise it, but rather condemn it and speak about its uselessness and harmfulness. Death of a Salesman is no exception as it describes the American Dream from a negative perspective. Briefly, the American Dream is connected with striving to achieve wealth, high social status, secure life and family comfort. At first glance, the American Dream combines all the essential elements every person wants to have. However, the problem consists not in the goal, but in the ways of its achievement. Thus, A. Miller shows that the efforts to become rich eliminate the importance of present life and deprive people of the ability to enjoy every moment of their lives. Moreover, continuous work ruins the value of ordinary things and leads to personal dramas. Thus, the author warns that chasing the American Dream can happen to be useless and harmful, since it does not offer any rewards, but only drawbacks.

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6. The play shows that such people as Willy have forgotten how to enjoy the trivia of everyday life and to find satisfaction in ordinary things. Willy and other people of his social class are permanently busy with their work, as they always want to earn more profit than others. Their lives are connected only with work-related interests and ideas of enrichment and prosperity in the future. The author wants to emphasize the fruitlessness of this approach and draw public attention to the necessity to appreciate everyday life. He claims that wealth should not be the ultimate aim and one’s heart desire. Preferably, people should learn to combine their work with personal interests and preferences.

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