• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12

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

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Death of a Salesman 'Explore the relationship between Willy and his sons' Arthur Miller is an interesting writer in the sense that many of his plays reflect or are a product of events in his life. He was born in 1915 in New York City and was the son of a successful businessman, up until the Great Depression when his father lost most of his wealth. This greatly impacted on Miller's life, and influenced the themes for many of his writings. It is often accepted in literary circles that the character of Willy Loman, in 'Death of a Salesman'1 was in part based on Miller's father. To make ends meet at home, Miller worked as a truck driver, a warehouse clerk, and a cargo-mover. Consequently, these menial jobs brought him close to the working-class people that would later be the basis of many characters in his plays. It was while he involved himself in these jobs that Miller formed his love for literature; he was greatly impressed by Fyodor Dostoevsky's 'The Brothers Karamazov'2 because it raises the familiar question of the unspoken rules of society; The Gramscian concept of false consciousness was something he often wondered about, especially after the Great Depression. He believed that American society needed a transformation; for this reason, many of his earlier plays showed sympathetic portrayals and compassionate characterisations of his characters. ...read more.

Middle

Willy has clung to the idea of the American Dream. He believes in the superficial edicts of acquired reputation, good looks and consumerism. Everything that he believes in is without substance. His religion is that of financial worship and status in the vain hope that he can claw his way up the social ladder towards being upper-middle class. Essentially 'money is barren', (Calvin)4 and therefore Willy's dreams are empty and shallow. It is with these characteristics that Willy and his wife Linda has unsuccessfully raised two sons; Happy and Biff. Even the names are symbolic! Both names are onomatopoeic in sound. Happy/Hap gives the audience an image of one the seven dwarves, slightly stupid and grinning. Biff is a short, strong sounding name. Both sons are in their thirty's, with Biff being older than Happy by two years. They are both staying in the family home for the night. Viewing the play on face value an audience could simply decide that Willy's values have seeped into his sons' consciousnesses, however Miller is using Biff and Happy to demonstrate two extremes of attitude. It was Oscar Wilde, who said, "Children begin by loving their parents, after a while they judge them, rarely do they forgive them' 5 In the case of the Loman sons, this is very true. ...read more.

Conclusion

He has become in Biff's words: "You Fake! You phoney little fake! You fake!"(Ibid, page 92) Biff blames his father for his own failures but at the same time has grown to understand that Willy has lived his life with false hope and those, like his father, who buy into this fraudulent delusion are at best misguided. It is Biff, who in Shakespearean style, at the restaurant who says: "You've just seen a prince walk by. A fine, troubled prince. A hard-working, unappreciated prince" (Ibid, page 86) Biff understands that he can not longer lay the blame for his life solely at the feet of his father. His father is just a product of American society. The play still holds relevance today, some sixty years since its first performance. The American dream is still built on lies and debt. Unfortunately Miller could not possibly have foreseen how destructive that dream was to become on a global scale. Where American values are forced into our consciousness by the means of mass media and even more aggressively through their foreign policies. In this play Arthur Miller added expressionism to realism which enabled us to see into the minds of characters and thereby interpret the play in a realistic and relevant way. In Requiem when Linda speaks the line; 'We're free...we're free' (Ibid , Pg 108) Miller is most definitely speaking of the cycle of life, that all things must be free to live and die, leaving nothing behind, just like Willy Loman. ...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. Peer reviewed

    To what extent is Willy Loman a tragic hero?

    3 star(s)

    Willy's constant reluctance to live in the present is another cause for his demise and the fact that he does not learn from his mistakes which ultimately makes him a tragic hero. He never comes to terms with reality and appears to live in the past which is what clouds his judgement in the present.

  2. Examine the relationship between Willy and his sons in "Death of a Salesman"

    In Act II, when the neglected son tells his father: "I'm getting married, Pop, don't forget it", Willy just ignores him and turns his back; this is just one example of many where Willy dismisses Happy's hopes and dreams. We find another example of this in Act I, where Happy

  1. Quotes from All My Sons

    hasn't been laid up in fifteen years" p152 Colloquial-Shows her careless side and shows she is a little bit stupid "The minute there's trouble you have no strength"p162 Uses illness to manipulate characters to act benignly towards her "Forget now.

  2. Character Analysis - Willy Loman

    We have previously been told by Willy of the opportunity he missed when he could have gone with his brother. He is then offered a job from Charley and refuses it. This again is a missed opportunity. He refuses the job, as he does not want to lose his pride.

  1. Death of a salesman - Why did Willy commit suicide? What did his suicide ...

    Biff does not blame the affair for the course his life has taken but on the fact that his father would not let him enter the business world from the bottom but form where Willy left off. Willy's deterioration to suicide is made clear by Willy's happy and Biff's tearful

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

    However, Linda puts a stop to this and says, "Don't say those things to him! Enough to be happy right here, right now... Why must everybody conquer the world? You're well liked, and the boys love you..." She stopped Willy from being successful, and this could be the reason for Willy's deterioration in his mental state.

  1. Death Of A Salesman, Willy Loman analysis

    However, Happy is presented as a carbon copy of his father, whom he idolises despite his father's constant rejection. For instance, when he tells his father about his plans to get married, Billy blames his father for the false hope installed within him with regard to the American Dream and

  2. All My Sons Act 1 Essay

    Most of the conflict between the characters can be traced back to the war including the two most important subjects of the play, the defected parts that were sold to the military by Joe Keller and the disappearance of Joe's eldest son during the war.

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