Death Of A Salesman Critical Analysis

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Written in 1949 at the peak of the time of the American dream, the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller follows Willy Loman, a salesman of more than 30 years, on his journey to reach his idea of success: one of immense riches for him and his family. He has worked his whole life to achieve it, wanting nothing more than to give his two sons, Happy and Biff, a life of wealth and the happiness that comes with it. His obsession with the American Dream, however, leads to his swift mental decline and ends up burying him in the grave. Just as his wife Linda calls out during his funeral, Willy is finally free; he is no longer crushed under the weight of unattainable goals or pressures of economic success. His fixation with freedom, however, is…show more content…
In the competitive, capitalism driven society of the land of the free, freedom comes at a high cost. As a young salesman, Willy has his mind set to achieve the American dream at all costs, working absurd hours and driving across New England each week. In many aspects, Willy’s life seems content; he has a nice house, a loving wife, and two boys that idolize him. Still, after Linda comments that they should have “bought the land next door” Willy quickly goes off and says “There’s not a breath of fresh air in the neighborhood. The grass don’t grow anymore, you can’t raise a carrot in the backyard” (17). Willy claims that New York is overflowing with opportunity, but he constantly complains about the city and is captivated by his brother Ben’s adventures in faraway lands. The apartments of Brooklyn smother Willy—his job allows him to escape. At the same time, his job is his greatest confinement. Unlike his brother, who became rich quickly after he “walked into the jungle at seventeen” (48), Willy spent his life trying to stay afloat. By the end of it, he is so drained that…show more content…
He is 34 years old but still hasn’t established himself or the path he wants his life to take. He tells his brother, “Hap, I’ve had twenty or thirty different jobs since I left home before the war” (22). His worst nightmare is working a nine to five job every day just for the sake of a two-week vacation. Instead, he yearns for fresh air and the outdoors, far away from the imprisonment of a cubicle. Biff wants nothing more than to move out west on a ranch with Happy, but despite his hatred of the innate competition of American society, he still accepts that he must take an unpleasant path to find success. Each time Biff returns to Brooklyn he is overwhelmed by the feeling of being trapped; every time he leaves he feels like he is wasting his life away. Biff is Willy’s eldest son; he was the star athlete and lady’s man back in his high school days. His father still believes he is that young boy and pours all his aspirations into him. In his youth, Biff idolized his father. He would simonize the car and wait eagerly for Willy’s return home after each and every business trip. After discovering his father’s affair, he sees Willy as a fake and a liar, selfish and untrustworthy. Biff has no choice but to try to impress a man who he has no respect for, holding him in a cycle of discontent with both his family and himself. As Willy’s mental health is rapidly declining, Biff decides to

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