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Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman" is a profound work that records many facets of society and social life. The play recounts the events of the previous 24 hours in Willy's household. Willy, as the father, is the protagonist in this sense. In a perfect world, the protagonist uses metaphors in the subject to represent the real incidents that happen in Willy's family rather than what he made people think of his family environments. The author employs a variety of thematic techniques to depict the structure of a troubled family in the middle of contemporary problems. The themes include appearance versus truth, individualism versus community, and personal challenges. This discussion involves a response to the significant problems in the play.
The characters include Willy Loman, the protagonist and his family that provides for Linda, the wife, Biff, the eldest son and Happy, the younger son. Charley is a long-term neighbor to Willy. Charley has a son, Bernard. In addition, Willy has a brother in a neighborhood known as Ben. The Woman in the story is the former lover of Willy. Howard Wagner acts as the current boss of Willy. He fires Willy at some point rendering him jobless. Each character in the story portrays distinctive qualities in the society. Typically, their presentation highlights social diversity in different ways. The struggles demonstrate the complexity of life and human understanding in the story.
First, Willy struggles to clinch on his experience in sales as a part of his private life. He paints a picture of a perfect family upon his colleagues in the sales industry. He imagines his sons would pick his steps and become successful people in the society. Contrariwise, his sons, Biff and Happy turn out to be the opposite of his expectations. His wife, Linda, clings to the hopes that sometimes later they will achieve the dreams of her husband. However, the reality dawns on Willy, and he commits suicide on account of financial insolvency in the society. He cannot wake up to the fact that his family is not as he perceives it to be. Moreover, he is undergoing deep struggles financially (Miller, 129). Willy can no longer educate his children to become successful individuals in the American dream.
Sometimes appearance may not reflect the reality of the matter. Willy is an epitome of pretentious life that fails to recognize the lie in his backyard. He portrays his family as a perfect one to please his colleagues forgetting the bills and financial bills that only require bailing and not social relationships. From his contact with other sales associates, one would imagine that he had a strong bond with his people. However, it turns out that nobody comes to his burial. He gets fired and fails to acquire the transfer he hoped. His son, Biff, as well fails to obtain business loan that he thought would rescue his family from the financial crises. Therefore, Arthur Miller succeeds in presenting the theme of appearance versus reality in a transparent manner. Biff further reveals the life of a lie that they have lived as a family. Witnessing the death of Willy on such a platform is traumatizing. He is one character that one would wish to relate with. His passion and determination to ensure his sons succeed are unmatchable. However, he forgets to link the aspects what appears to be and what should be done at every step in the case. He has a strong desire for the American dream for his family. Regrettably, it ends up suicidal for him, a sad state indeed.
A simple perpetuation of self-denial and contradiction exist across the play with numerous characters behaving in confusing manners. Biff and Happy reveal their father’s relationship with the woman over 15 years before the game and mount spite on their father. They do not perceive him as a majority of people do in the society. Biff recognizes the false image of his family whereas his mother remains true to the quest for success amidst every other aspect of their struggles. Their mother, Linda and Happy displays elements of denial in various. Linda understands the behavior of her husband and fails to link his issues with the reality (Miller, 124).
In the entire play, Willy appears to be more concerned with presenting himself as a known man whose sales practices has brought so many people into his life. At the same time, it is evident that the level of relationship with his sons is deteriorating slowly. He cannot command his boys any longer. Such revelation occurs during his burial when nobody comes to his funeral. All that he tried to build and everything that he pretended to have could not stand. At the end of the play, Biff mourns his father and remembers the good works he did while alive. He was very hardworking and devoted to his work to earn a living in the society.
Moreover, the play holds a special place in the society. It fosters self-reflection and the balance between realities and the aftermath of every decision made during such times. Ideally, everybody faces difficulties and financial struggles. Nonetheless, most of the individuals do not turn to suicidal events as witnessed in the play. It helps to reveal the aspects of personality and strategies to improve on the current situation based on the environmental conditions.
In my opinion, Miller’s concepts are relatable in the modern society. He narrates some of the crucial aspects of family and the community at large. People relate in different ways. Some of us would wish to leave a legacy whereas others want to live right and enjoy every moment. Nonetheless, the problem lies in trying to embrace universal conducts that drain away our personality and characters.
In conclusion, the play is an example of the organization of various family units within society. Appearances and realities may be contradictory. At the same, the self-identity issues and the need to please the nation may hinder the success of some people in the community. Willy serves as an example of a victim and villain in similar measures. He fails to recognize the importance of living a real life until things go out of hand. His approach to success indicates high levels of egocentrism and self-love. He fails to lead his family to the American dream life that he hoped for in his entire life. It is sad that the play ends with his burial and none of his friends comes to mourn with the family. Such cases presents the ironies of life.
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Miller, A. (2007). Death of a Salesman. Edited and with an introd. by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publications.
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