Death Of A Salesman Essay

1991 words - 8 pages

Death Of A Salesman

In Arthur Miller’s ’Death Of A Salesman’, Miller uses several
techniques to show attitudes to success held by the characters. There
are many indicators of success in this play which are, the ideas of
being wealthy, the performance on their job, to have power and status.
Some of the techniques he uses to show this are the use of motifs, the
American Dream, language, stage directions and also through sequence
in the past.

One of the motifs Miller uses to show the attitude of success is the
idea of being ‘well-liked’. This is mainly shown through the character
of Will Loman. Willy seems to think that if a person is ‘well-liked‘,
it will excuse anything and everyone opens up for him. Willy got this
philosophy from David Singleman, a salesman who was respected and
‘well-liked’ all over the country. In the opening sequence of the play
where the action is from the past, Biff had stolen a football from the
locker room and Willy’s reaction to this was, “Sure, he’s gotta
practise with a regulation ball doesn’t he?…Coach’ll probably
congratulate you on your initiative!” Willy transfers the idea of
being ‘well-liked’ to his sons, Biff and Happy. “That’s because he
likes you. If somebody else took that ball, there’d be an uproar.” It
seems as though Willy has created an illusion of being ‘well-liked’
that he can’t let go of. Also, in the opening sequence of the play,
Willy tells his sons, Biff and Happy that he will own a business one
day, but one that is bigger than Charley, because Charley not
‘well-liked’. “Bigger than Charley! Because Charley is not liked.
He’s liked, but not ‘well-liked’.” This illusion creates unlikely
images that he can create a bigger business. It seems as though Willy
is not facing reality, and the illusion of being ‘well-liked’ is what
keeps him going on. The Lomans in general cannot distinguish between
reality and illusion, particularly Willy. Willy cannot see who he and
his sons are because he believes they are great men who have what it
takes to be successful in the business world. Unfortunately, he is
mistaken as Willy and his sons are not, and cannot, be successful. As
a result, Biff, a star football player in high school, feels like he
can get by in life on his looks and personality. He finds out,
however, that these qualities do not bring success to him as he flunks
math and cannot go to college, and amounts to nothing in life. Happy
is also mislead - he encourages Biff in his illusions, telling him he
should be able to borrow any amount of money from Bill Oliver because
Biff is so ‘well liked.’ Additionally, Happy tries to make himself
well liked, especially by surrounding himself with women, but he finds
himself to be very empty and lonely. Later on in the play, as Willy
completes his plans for his suicide he hopes that the insurance money
payable on his death will give Biff the start he needs, and also
proving to his sons how ‘well-liked’ he was by...

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