• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman contains many themes of success and failure.

Extracts from this document...


Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman contains many themes of success and failure. They include the apartment buildings, the rubber hose, Willy's brother Ben, the tape recorder, and the seeds for the garden. These symbols represent Willy's attempts to be successful and his impending failure. In the start Willy and Linda moved to a home in Brooklyn, as it at the time seemed far removed form the city. Willy was younger and stronger and he believed he had a future full of success. When the script begins Willy is struggling to pay for his home, the city has seemed to grow and has smothered his house and tall apartment buildings "trap" Willy's house. The symbols in the play can show Willy's struggles and an example of this can be the rubber hose, which symbolizes Willy's stability as it shows that he has been attempting to commit suicide and we can see that Biff cares for his father greatly at the point in the play when he takes away the rubber hosing because he does not want to have the thought of always knowing that the hosing could have taken it away to avoid his fathers death. ...read more.


The tape recorder could show the change in Willy's life through the advancement of technology, and signifies the point at which Willy's career ends. Howard, who is much younger than Willy, finds more interest in the recorder than Willy himself and without any doubt fires Willy. But Willy can also be to blame for him losing his job as Howard had just got the tape recorder signifying change, and Willy cannot accept change and prefers the past, and when Willy is left in Howard's office he messes with the tape recorder and cannot turn it off which shows that Willy has not adapted to the future. The seeds that Willy plants are signs of Willy leaving some form of support behind for his family, and they can also represent Willy wanting Biff to grow into a strong, successful man, but this will never happen, in comparison with the seeds as Willy plants them at night when there is no sunlight and only cold, the hose, tape recorder and the seeds, are all symbolic of Willy's dreams which have gone wrong, and his incapability to live in the present. ...read more.


Happy and Biff are although significant characters in the script are not as symbols in the play, simply represent two sides of Willy's personality throughout the script. Ben, Willy's dead brother who he often talks to in his illusions, is Willy's hero in that Ben is his ideal of financial and personal success; Willy always regrets not taking up Ben's offer to come with him to Alaska and become rich. On the other hand, Ben also leads Willy away from realistic ideals. A significant scene in the play is the garden scene where Willy is "talking" with Ben. Here, they are contemplating whether Willy should commit suicide or not. Willy believes that the insurance money his family will receive from his death will provide for Biff's "magnificent future." This scene with Ben obviously signifies Willy's unstable mentality. Willy's mistress, Miss Frances, directly represents his infidelity. He loves Linda, but is overcome by loneliness and feels the need to be "loved." Arthur Miller brilliantly uses symbolism in Death of a Salesman to enhance the story of the Loman's in relation to their family life, the society in which they live, and to themselves as separate characters. Jack Gahan Examine The Use of Signs and Symbols 9th October in Death of a Salesman ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Arthur Miller section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Arthur Miller essays

  1. Is Biff the True Hero of Death of a Salesman?

    At least a dozen six-by-tens worth all kinds a money." (pg34). This flaw whereby Biff steals becomes his unknown escapism from the materialistic American Dream. Eventually after realising he has stole his way out of every job in his life, after trying to succumb to the expectations of his father; it is this flaw of stealing that becomes his saviour.

  2. Explore the relationship between Linda and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.

    He may resent Linda for passing up on such an important opportunity, as this could have made him rich. Also, Linda wants to reconcile father and son, but she attempts this in the context of Willy's false values. She Fails to understand what happens to Willy, and fails to fathom

  1. In the light of critical opinions discuss Millers exploration of the American Dream in ...

    (Page 20 Act 1). He bases his work ethic on a successful salesman who had many people come to his funeral as he was very popular. However, at Willy's funeral, he proves to be almost entirely friendless. Willy has deluded himself into thinking that he is so popular and well

  2. Death of a Salesman. 'Explore the relationship between Willy and his sons'

    Biff is everything Willy and Happy are not. He had opted out of the dream. He appears to have spent certain amount of his time in prison for stealing. He has completely rejected Willy's aspirational view of the world. How ironic perhaps, that through a thief such as Biff, Miller

  1. An Analysis of the Dramatic Impact of the Restaurant Scene in Death of a ...

    His illusions and constructed reality is falling apart. Biff wants to essentially leave behind all the lies and fake illusions and start a new beginning, one with his father relating to honesty. Willy, however, wants his sons to aid him in constructing a false truth. One that includes reliving the American Dream for him.

  2. How are issues of personal dignity dramatically portrayed in Death of a Salesman?

    He also sees success as money; he is disappointed that Biff "has yet to make thirty-five dollars a week!" - he sees the amount of money a person makes as how successful that person is. This again links with the earlier point of his need to be seen as successful as he lies to his family (Linda in particular)

  1. Miller presents Will Loman as a failure in many aspects of his life. To ...

    In such a state, it is not unsurprising that his marriage has suffered: his failure as a husband is a mere symptom of the real root cause, his true chief failure. There is, however, much more conclusive proof of Willy's failure as a husband, but this is again a failure

  2. Explore the ways in which Miller uses symbolism to emphasise the tragedy in Death ...

    One may interpret this as a pathetic fallacy, alluding to their sense of isolation and vulnerability, the former of which being a traditional trait of the tragic hero. However, the way Miller isolates the entire Loman family reflects the way the American dream was an influence to many people?s lives and is not merely a unique flaw in Willy.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work