Arthur Miller’s “Death of A Salesman”, A Review

Arthur Miller is a playwright in American theater. He is best known for his play “The Crucible.” He won a Pultizer Prize for “Death of A Salesman.”

Other works include: All My Sons

A brief summary: “Death of A Salesman” follows a period during Willy’s, our main character’s life. Willy, approx. 60 years old, was taught the purest form of the American Dream, that if one works hard and tries their best towards becoming successful they will achieve their goals. Willy thrives off of his reoccuring memories as a successful salesman as his real life becomes less and less fruitful. He is joined by his wife, Linda, an exemplar of a homemaker, who shares Willy’s passion but is much more cautious.  Willy’s goal throughout this play is to teach his sons how to be successful. Through his work he experiences a sense of obsoletism as the years pass, where his method of meeting clients (charisma and loyalty) gives way to the more modern way of obtaining customers (over the phone, accessibility). This lack of self-confidence builds and later “drives” Willy to killing himself, he believes that he can’t be a good driving force in his son’s lives and that he failed them through not teaching them well. This play encompasses the themes of the American Dream, money, and the progression of obsoletism.

Symbols:

Rubber Hose- This rubber hose is the item that our protagonist uses to attempt suicide (assumed multiple times). His wife decides not to move the rubber hose from the furnace as she believes that her husband will move it on his own and that once he does, he won’t want to kill himself anymore.

The car: This is another item that Willy uses multiple times to kill himself, and ultimately succeeds at using. This car is Willy’s attempts to leave his problems. In many cases, he ends up experiencing his greatest troubles and then leaves in his car, where it can be assumed that his ideas fester and grow after a tragedy occurs. The car is a symbol of turning different thoughts over and over, unable to evade them.

Money: Oddly enough, money somewhat ends up being the root of all evil within this piece, money is the motivation for all of Willy’s actions: he teaches his children to be charismatic in order to get people to buy from them, he values the power and greatness that his brother has achieved, and success is what he believes he must die for.

 

Favorite Quotes

“Biff, up in Albany I saw a beautiful hammock. I think I’ll buy it next trip, and we’ll hang it right between those two elms. Wouldn’t that be something? Just swingin’ there under those branches. Boy, that would be…” Act One

This quote values the theme of the American Dream, it alludes to a simple goal for Willy to be able to buy something that would benefit him. This line shows the patience that Willy had to wait and work for something, with no other purpose but to make him happy. It’s a simple quote, but when dissected, it means a lot.

“It sounds so old-fashioned and silly, but I tell you he put his whole life into you…”

Here Linda describes to her children the effort that Willy put in to make his son’s lives successful. From her point of view, Willy worked so hard he practicallly killed himself (and then actually did) trying and expected respectful children as a result.

 

 

 

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