Bautista 1Aldo BautistaCP English IVMr. Ragati15 December 2017 Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman had a life that was full of abandonment from the start, as his fear of abandonment grows stronger, so does the grasp of control that he tries to maintain over the lives of his family. Willy was born in 1886, and his brother Ben was born in 1873. In 1880, their father deserted the family, heading to Alaska, not to be seen again. In order to fully understand Death of a Salesman, it is important to consider the idea of death and suicide within the framework of the play. The title itself hints at what is in store for Willy Loman, not only the physical act of taking his life, but also how he has been dying inside all along.
Arthur Miller (1915–2005) was one of the most well produce playwrights of his day, with a career that spanned some sixty years. Death of a Salesman, is his finest work and is a signal play in the history of American drama. The play itself established Miller as a major American playwright, and the character of Willy Loman remains firmly entrenched in American culture and American literary history. The original title, The Inside of His Head, reflected Miller’s intention to present a drama of personal downfall from a purely subjective viewpoint, but it was abandoned after he found himself engaged in more complex themes. The depth and complexity Bautista 2of Death of a Salesman can be challenging, and readers should turn to other works by and about Miller to aid them in fully appreciating this monumental drama. Miller was no doubt influenced by his own upbringing in a struggling Jewish immigrant family in Brooklyn during the Great Depression and by the years he spent working in warehouses and dockyards while the dream of a college education continued to be a dream. Influenced by the earlier experimental works of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and the Swedish playwright August Strindberg, it is distinguished by its finely crafted plot, clever foreshadowing, effective irony, and dense symbolism.
Manny, miller’s cousin, sparked an idea in him. He wanted a play without any transitions a play were past and present can be display as if it was occuring at the same time. Miller wanted to transmit to the audience exactly what was going on inside the mind of his protagonist.”Death of a Salesman carefully blends a realistic picture of a salesman’s home and life in the post-Depression years with the subjective thoughts that are going through its central protagonist’s head.”(Abbotson) “The play’s clever use of time that allows the audience to view both past and present occurring at the same moment on the same stage set fully captured the concept of simultaneity for which Miller had been striving.”(Abbatson) When Willy initially goes from the real world into his first daydream, the apartment houses in the background are faded out, and the lighting suggests that the stage is covered with leaves, as the opening music reasserts itself. With this change in atmosphere, Willy’s dream world of the past is recreated for the audience as it occurs Bautista 3in Willy’s memory.
Miller’s lengthy setting and character descriptions contribute much to an understanding of the play. Willy is presented as living in a claustrophobic urban setting that is representing the harsh life that he has chosen. The play explores the changing role of capitalism in society and its impact on people’s lives. Willy is living in a time when the nature of business itself is undergoing intrinsic changes, partly due to the capitalist pressure to make more money and to become more efficient. It is a play in which all of the characters are lost to the corruption in modern business, urbanization, father-son conflicts, and the general failure of the American dream.
The play received immediate recognition because of its fine stagecraft, serious social issues, and modern definitions of tragedy. Whether Death of a Salesman is a “real” tragedy or not, it continues to inspire audiences, even those who have never experienced the pressures of the American dream. “I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been.” (Miller) Willy’s past and present frequently blend into one, but Miller cautions the reader not to see this strange merging of time as some sort of mental collapse. It is because he cannot live up to his own expectations that he continually falls short. Had Willy altered his perception of the dream and found contentment in the life he created for himself, his needless death could have been avoided. The play steadily reveals Willy’s delusional mind as he relives scenes from the past, enacts mental retreats from the present, and, after totally withdrawing from reality, drives off in his car to kill himself. Bautista 4 Willy’s past and present frequently blend into one, but Miller cautions the reader not to see this strange merging of time as some sort of mental collapse.
Willy swings between hope and despair, truth and lies, self-confidence and self-doubt. Willy’s chief desire is to be well liked. This alone is his American dream.
If he is well liked, then he considers himself worthy. But this is not his reality, and from early in the play it is mentioned that he has reached a point where he has become suicidal. “I’m not noticed. … I’m fat.
I’m very foolish to look at.”(Miller) The depth and complexity of Death of a Salesman can be challenging, and readers should turn to other works by and about Miller to aid them in fully appreciating this monumental drama. He bases this idea on the death of another great salesman, who was so well liked that the buyers came to him. He was wealthy, died in his hotel room, and hundreds of men and women came out to pay their respects at his funeral. Willy imagines this kind of procession for himself, and, in his own way, looks forward to the day he will die, when his sons will finally learn that he was liked by everyone who knew him. His only chance to provide anything for his family is to commit suicide and allow his sons to use his life insurance policy to become successful. In this way, Willy wants to leave a legacy.
His downfall and final defeat illustrate not only the failure of a man but also the failure of a way of life. Death of a Salesman can be read as an illustration of the historical economic interests and forces operating on U.S. society from the turn of the century to when the play was written.
Bautista 5″Enthusiastic reviews swiftly made it the “must-see” play of the season, and Miller garnered nearly every award available.” Death of a Salesman won the Pulitzer Prize for the 1948–49 theatrical season, as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Antoinette Perry Award, the Theatre Club Award, and the Front Page Award. The production chronology reveals the thousands of times this play has been staged since its original appearance in 1948.