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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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