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AS and A Level: Arthur Miller

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  • Peer Reviewed essays 3
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  1. Peer reviewed

    Death of a Salesman: Is Willy Loman a tragic hero or a tragic victim?

    5 star(s)

    Firstly, a tragic hero should have a "magnitude or nobility"5 about them. At first glance this would seemingly exclude Willy from the status, however according to Hardison, "noble" does not necessarily imply a high social status, but rather a "larger than life"6 quality. The fact that Willy's visions are of such a great grandeur, especially where his sons are concerned, ("You guys together could absolutely lick the civilised world.") along with the constant gesticulations that accompany his exclamations, all support the idea that Willy Loman is indeed a "larger than life" character.

    • Word count: 1832
  2. Peer reviewed

    To what extent is Willy Loman a tragic hero?

    3 star(s)

    Willy Loman is a struggling salesman around the age of sixty. He lives with his wife Linda and two sons Biff and Happy. Willy does not fit the usual criteria established by Shakespearean or Aristotelian tragedies. Firstly, he is not of noble birth, although in the play Miller makes a link known to the audience because Willy is made to appear of noble birth as he is in fact referred to as, "a prince", by his son. Miller commented, "I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were".2 This gives us clear insight why Willy is still a tragic hero even if he is not of high social ranking or status.

    • Word count: 1625
  3. Peer reviewed

    How does the Requiem reflect the elements of tragedy explored within Death of a Salesman?

    3 star(s)

    Whilst Milton would have deplored this "introducing of trivial and vulgar persons [into tragedy]", Miller dismissed all criticism of his choice of hero, demanding his accusers to recognise "it matters not whether the hero falls from a great height or a small one", or as Linda puts it, "he's not the finest character who ever lived. But he's a human being and a terrible thing is happening to him" the importance then, lies in the way and reason for which the character falls.

    • Word count: 1904
  4. How does Miller present Willy as a tragic figure in the extract Carrots quarter-inch apart to suddenly conscious of Biff?

    The very idea of financial success may have also been aroused by the Panic of 1893 and 1896. Earlier in the play when Linda sees Ben again she says 'Oh, you're back?' as if dauntingly and she knows that the impression he leaves is tainting. Linda tells him 'You're doing well enough, Willy!' but Ben interrupts and says 'Enough for what, my dear?' and Willy hangs on his every word but now, in this extract, he is telling him what is right and more informing him in what he is going to do as opposed to seeking advice from him - making him more independent and commanding: 'don't answer so quick'.

    • Word count: 1657
  5. Conflict in 'A View from the Bridge'

    And with them new heels...the heads are turnin' like windmills." He is very protective of his niece and does not like the amount of attention that she is getting from other boys in the community. He is concerned about her new job and finds it difficult to accept that she is no longer a child. He is not aware of his feelings for his niece and, at this point, neither is the reader. The jealousy could be a normal feeling for an uncle as he had always been the most important man in her life and now she is meeting other men.

    • Word count: 770
  6. The theme of jeaslousy in 'A View from the Bridge'

    When we are first introduced to Catherine she is waving from the window to Eddie and his friend. She is wearing new clothes and has her hair done in a different style. Eddie lectures her on her short skirt and the increasing male attention that she has been receiving; "You are walkin'wavy! I don't like the looks they're givin' you in the candy store. And with them new high heels ... the heads are turnin' like windmills." At first it seems that he is simply concerned for his niece's wellbeing. Also, feeling jealous could be considered completely normal for him as he has always been the most important man in her life and if she finds a husband, he no longer will be.

    • Word count: 922
  7. Is Biff the True Hero of Death of a Salesman?

    Miller states "It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time--the heart and spirit of the average man" (theliterarylink.com 30.01.12). The tragic hero created for the play is not a king or noble man, but a common man, a lo-man, reflecting the change of time since the tragedies named by Aristotle and Shakespeare. To Willy Loman's family he was a noble man working hard to achieve success for their family name.

    • Word count: 2981
  8. How are issues of personal dignity dramatically portrayed in Death of a Salesman?

    But how do these apply in Miller's Death of a Salesman? Willy takes success very seriously, he needs to be seen as successful and liked (by everyone) in order to secure his dignity. Willy strongly believes in the American Dream, he has worked hard all his life as a salesman and as such, he believes that he deserved, owed, this fortune and success because of the "thirty-four years" he has put into the sales firm. But his position in the company is increasingly low, he works without salary on commission only - as if he was just starting out.

    • Word count: 1915
  9. What Concerns does Miller present to us Regarding the Community of Salem in Act 1 of 'The Crucible'

    This builds anxiety as we enquire as to why this is the view held of these people and we notice the oppressive nature of the town. To the reader "the necessity of the Devil may become evident as a weapon" due to the fact that as long as this belief in Lucifer exists, the people will never be free to speak their minds and this undertone of claustrophobia and emptiness will always exist. Furthermore, it appears Salem is so inherently religious that the people are blinded by their own "parochial snobbery" and instead of modernising, they focus only on paying "homage to God".

    • Word count: 1437
  10. There is no character in Acts 1-2 of 'The Crucible' who is Beyond Criticism. Discuss.

    However, from the moment Elizabeth Proctor is mentioned we see her personality transform into that of a headstrong young woman, arguing back with a concerned anger: "Do you begrudge my bed, uncle?" and reducing Parris to few words. This transformation is a clear example of how when placed under scrutiny or pressure Abigail is able to manipulate those around her to free herself from the situation - a highly critical aspect of her wider character. Furthermore, Abigail is able to alter her personality to that of a charmer when in the presence of John Proctor, of whom she has a "concentrated desire" for.

    • Word count: 1770
  11. Crucible craetive ewrting and commentary. Through this dialogue I wanted to portray how powerful Abigail has become.

    He will always love goody Proctor. [Stands up to tell her] He will never love you! I won't have anything to do with this your outrageous! [Mary is taken back by what she has just said.] It's like you've signed your name the devils black book, you're a complete disgrace Abigail! Abigail: I need you to help me do you understand Mary? Mary: Abigail I'll have naught to do with it goody Proctor will hang for this. Abigail: I'm not sure that's wise thinking Mary the courts treat me like a saint.

    • Word count: 1442
  12. It has been argued that the main concern of "Death of a Salesman" is to study the ways in which the flaws of one generation are imprinted on the next. How far do you agree?

    "I'm afraid I'm not teaching them the right kind of - Ben, how should I teach them?" This would explain why Willy asks Ben for advice on his sons, because he believes that Ben had the upbringing he wanted to have and so was never able to pass on anything good to his sons. Willy should have asked Charlie for advice, this is because Charlie was always supportive of Willy and brought up his son to be a success. Both Willy and Biff reject help from Charlie and Bernard, when ultimately what they both offered Willy and Biff could have changed the entire course of the play if they'd accepted it.

    • Word count: 1263
  13. How does Millers handling of time and memory add to our understanding of tragedy within Death of a Salesman?

    However, even within this ordered dream world, Bernard pops the bubble in which order was maintained, as he asks Biff to 'study'. The use of the word 'anaemic' is interesting, as it can mean a lack of colour on the skin. Perhaps Miller is saying how Bernard doesn't fit into Willy's category of 'normal', as normal means you have to be 'well liked', something that Willy maintained which ultimately lead up to his demise. We see in this mobile concurrency how Willy is trying to maintain order by 'dreaming' yet this order subtly becomes disorder as the world doesn't exist as a 'floating balloon', there needs to be someone to anchor us, and in this case, it is Bernard.

    • Word count: 1624
  14. Millers writing style in The Crucible portrays a story of suspense, action, and also an array of different writing techniques to maintain the readers interest.

    This tragic flaw gives the reader the impression of Proctor being a lecher and a cheat. But when Proctor is sentenced to hang for being accused of witchcraft, his 'Tragic Hero' role is exhibited again. Proctor's refusal to sign the written confession provided by Deputy Governor Danforth and his colleague, Judge Hawthorne, unveils his heroism once more as he knows he will confront death. Proctor's reasoning for choosing death over confessing to a lie was to protect his name, and his family's reputation. "It is my name! I cannot have another in my life! I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang...I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"

    • Word count: 1059
  15. Willy's First Flashback (Death of a Salesman)

    From his perspective, he remembers feeling powerful, positive, optimistic, heroic. Not only that, but Biff has just been made captain of his football team and for Willy this is a great landmark of success and prosperity and indeed represents a bright future for all of them. Is this a flashback of something as it actually happened in the past? � Not completely. The audience is observing the events as Willy remembers them (inside his head!!) It's an idealised memory - probably embellished somewhat by Willy's tenacious grip, belief in the American Dream.

    • Word count: 1795
  16. An Analysis of Biff and Happy (Death of a Salesman)

    � Happy - Yeh, that was my first time - I think. Boy, there was a pig! They laugh, almost crudely You taught me everything I know about women. Don't forget that. � Happy is cruel and shows great disrespect for women. His female conquests merely satisfy his own vanity. He has lived in Biff's shadow all his life and now he compensates by nurturing his relentless sex drive and professional ambition. His father does nothing to show him he is important, so Happy relies on his own sense of self-importance to fuel his over-confidence. This represents Willy's own over-inflated ego just witnessed in the scene before - 'I'm vital in New England', 'I'd a been in charge of New York by now!'

    • Word count: 1211
  17. Commentary on the Climax of Death of a Salesman

    and saying "He put his arm around you". This tells the audience how desperate Willy has got, trying to hold onto his last morsel of hope which would make his life worth living. When Biff makes it clear to Willy that his chances with Bill Oliver are non-existent and that he is leaving for good, Willy goes into a fit of rage, insisting that it is Biffs' spiting of him which has led to his son's downfall: "Willy - Spite, spite is the word of your undoing!

    • Word count: 954
  18. There is too little to admire in Eddie Carbone for him to be seen as a tragic hero. Discuss this view.

    This demonstrates that Eddie believes in the idea of family, rather than the idea of just helping biological family. Eddie is devoted also in the sense that he has always supported his family and always will; he states 'I supported [them] this long I support [them] a little more'. Eddie's devotion is a fundamental aspect of the Italian honour code, which shows Eddie to be a man of family honour and loyalty. Miller establishes Eddie to be a strong upholder of these values early on in the play through Eddie's telling of Vinny Bolzano's family betrayal to Catherine; asserting the moral that 'you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away'.

    • Word count: 1650
  19. How is Abigail presented in 'The Crucible'

    Abigail Williams is a girl of tentative morals because of the traits she demonstrates throughout the play. To be exact, Abigail behaves in ways that didn't happen to be acceptable in the society. We are first introduced to Abigail Williams in Act one when she informs her uncle, the reverend Parris that a lady known as Susanna was there to see him to discuss Parris' niece, Betty's "ailment". Abigail is questioned about the dance that she and a few other girls in the town were involved in. She is quick at an attempt to defend herself when she says "Uncle, we did dance...But they're speakin' of witchcraft.

    • Word count: 1652
  20. Without the stage directions, the tragedy of Death of a Salesman could not be realised. To what extent do you agree?

    My first example comes at the beginning of ACT 1. The script begins, as you would imagine, with stage directions, key to starting off a play so all of the actors know where to be placed. But Death of a Salesman is different, it has a 'page and a half' of stage directions, all in full detail which allows the first scene to gather an audience that automatically understands where, who, and what they are watching. This also gathers emphasis towards the tragic happenings of the play which is overall, the plot.

    • Word count: 929
  21. Death of a Salesman. The plays author, Arthur Miller, gradually exposes tragedy throughout the play like a drip feed.

    Linda then goes on to calculate his commission and breaks down his lies, like acid, until finally concluding the truth, 'Well, it makes seventy dollars and some pennies.' In some ways this makes us feel pathos for Willy as he has to lie about how much he has earned, something that the ordinary man may be able to relate to, and his pride is shattered in the process. The contrast of the vocabulary used by Willy and Linda, he says 'hundred' and 'gross' where she says 'pennies', helps to reinforce the pathos felt for Willy by distinguishing fantasy from reality.

    • Word count: 1222
  22. The Crucible

    However underneath lies the hidden truth, the society is "rotten". This can be shown by the girls being caught in the forest: "Now look you. All of you. We danced" This conveys that the people of Salem do not follow the laws completely but rebel in secret as dancing and going into the forest is seen as the devils work. This also shows Abigail giving orders to the other girls. These actions conflict with their laws and in addition to this many of the citizens are selfish including those who themselves should be setting an example.

    • Word count: 1871
  23. The Crucible - Character at odds

    We are first made aware of this as word of the group of girls spreads and Proctor is inside Reverend Parris' house to converse on the matter. Also present is Thomas Putnam; together Parris and Putnam try to twist this gossip to their advantage but Proctor is against them: "you cannot command Mr Parris. We vote by name in this society, not by acreage." This clearly shows Proctor's first opposition against Putnam as Putnam is trying to give both Proctor and Parris advice on how to handle the situation at hand.

    • Word count: 1460
  24. Explore the theme of Dreams and Escapism within Death of a Salesman and Road

    In the introduction of the play, Miller proves to his audience that dreaming is evident in Death of a Salesman. "An air of the dream clings to the place, a dream rising out of reality". By using the phrase "rising out" this indicates that this dream is a way of escaping, this sets the scene and tone of the whole play and how Willy is in a constant dream, unable to acknowledge the reality of his existence. The structure of the play is constructed like a stream of consciousness throughout, adding to the overall theme.

    • Word count: 1070
  25. How does Willy Loman conform to the notion of a tragic hero?

    However, when we consider Willy Loman and family, in terms of the society they were living in, they were of relatively high standing - Willy had a job, whilst many were unemployed. Biff had a potential sports scholarship. Considering Willy's position from these two different angles, makes it hard to determine if he had much to lose, when his fortune reversed. He had little material wealth to lose, but in terms of personal loss, there is potential for suffering. The play doesn't include many characters outside the family, which makes Willy Loman a very central figure in his very small society (his family).

    • Word count: 1442

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To What Extent Does Death of a Salesman deal with modern issues such as materialism, consumerism, procrastination and alienation, in Act 1 of the play?

    "Alienation is the issue perhaps dealt with the most as it is the end result of the other issues combined and the one which has the largest part in the death of the main character, however Miller's play treats the issues as living off each other and as all counting towards the tragic fate that is the conclusion of the events of the play."

  • There is too little to admire in Eddie Carbone for him to be seen as a tragic hero. Discuss this view.

    "In conclusion, Eddie may not be 'purely good, but himself purely' expressing that albeit subject to an array of flaws, Eddie is human and a man whose actions are rooted to his morals and values, which are by far the most dominating reasons for how one can see him as a 'tragic hero'. Eddie remains the unconventional protagonist of Arthur Miller, in that Eddie possesses the classical Aristotelian characteristics of a tragic hero but he is not someone of royalty or great power; he is a 'common man' who has nothing but his family and his morals. Some may view Eddie as a man who fails to 'settle for half', but what marks his tale as special; what places him among the admirable tragic heroes such as Othello or King Lear, is his being 'wholly known'."

  • Discuss the role of Alfieri in Arthur Miller's 'A View From The Bridge'

    "In conclusion, there is no doubt that Alfieri holds a vital role within the play. He is the key to maintaining the audience's understanding of the drama and ensuring that we are aware of the changing dynamics and situations which evolve throughout the performance. He helps to develop our awareness of what the effect of these events are. It is clear also that Miller has used Alfieri quite intentionally as a way through which to express some of his views, his main ambition being to prove to people that the death of a low-born character is equally as tragic as the death of a high-born one. He clearly accomplishes this in 'A View From The Bridge'. Alfieri is not only used to enhance the audience's understanding of the play but also to create a structure, distinguishing between the two acts. Effectively Alfieri is the view from the bridge; he sits and watches the events unfold, watching helplessly as Eddie walks closer and closer to the other side, knowing what the tragic outcome will be, yet remaining powerless to prevent it."

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