Death of a Salesman Detailed Analysis

Topics: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, American Dream Pages: 11 (3489 words) Published: September 27, 2014


Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 - February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Prince of Asturias Award, and was married to Marilyn Monroe.


It is important to bear that the story is told through the mind and memory of Willy Loman and there is a constant back and forth between two periods ,1928 and 1942.The first period is one of the happiness and contentment when Willy Loman is young and dynamic and the children ,Biff and Happy are running about in shorts ;the second is one of gloom and discontent -Willy is now old and ,virtually out of a job and the children are grown up and gone their different ways. The play is thus structured in such a way to show the pleasures of the past ,the dreams and hopes the characters had and how these aspirations had turned sour. Willy Loman had built his life in such a way that he had finally trapped himself in an impossible situation.

Willy Loman ,the protagonist in the play was a travelling salesman in the services of the wagnor company for 34 years. When his old boss died ,his son Howard took over the administration of the company .Willy's family consists of three other members ,his wife Linda, Biff,the elder son and Happy, the younger son.

Willy unexpectedly returned on the same day he had left for New England territory on a business tour. Linda felt that her husband is thoroughly exhausted both physically and mentally and he has almost reached the breaking point. Willy, who is 63, has driven the car off the road twice or three times and when he reached home he was found to be panic stricken ,desolate and shattered.

Willy liked his eldest son Biff,who was wellknown as a football champion. Though he is 34 , it is unfortunate that he could not settle in life. Inspite of the fact that three colleges offered him scholarship in recognition of his proficiency in football, he did not join any college . Happy, the women chaser also could not settle in life.

For the next two days, immediately after his unexpected return, Willy's mind was rather disturbed with thoughts of today's realities inter mingled with yesterday's half forgotten episodes. He felt that it was mistake on his part not to have followed his elder brother Ben ,who dared his way into the diamond minds of Africa and amassed fabulous wealth . Willy's guilty consciousness pricked him at the flash back scene of Boston hotel room, when his son Biff makes a surprise visit and finds his father having an affair with a strange lady .After this episode, Biff seemed to hold a grudge against his father and could never again bring himself to trust Willy. As suggested by Linda, Willy visits Howard, the young Boss and request for a change of job in the New York City office as he is physically and mentally incapacitated as a travelling sales man. When the request was unceremoniously turned down by Howard and Willy dismissed from service he protest "You cannot eat orange and throw the peel away; man is not a piece of fruit". Willy is very much frustrated and disillusioned at the behavior of capitalists who lacked the human milk of kindness, sympathy and gratitude. Biff's attempt to raise a loan from Bill Oliver, the proprietor of sports goods company also failed. Oliver, who once liked Biff immensely, now refused to recognise him now because Biff has stolen a fountain pen, Charley ,Willy's neighbour extended a helping hand in those days of adversity. He ,not only advanced a loan to him but also offered him a job to him. But Willy refused to accept it with a...
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