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It is the capitalist society that has done Willy in - How far do you agree with this reading of the play - Death of a Salesman

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Introduction

"It is the capitalist society that has done Willy in". How far do you agree with this reading of the play? "Death of a salesman" is a "tragedy of a common man". Throughout the play the reader sees how Willy Loman struggles to achieve something, which is beyond his capability. He has a dream, the American dream of success and accomplishment. And yet, he is not able to ever thrive because his idea of how to succeed is wrong. The times have changed, the play is set in the period of and economic boom and increasing desire for material goods in America and the Loman family is now living in a capitalist society, however, Willy seems not to have realised that things have changed. He is constantly battling between the present and the past, the reality and a dream. The play is about a conflict between a man and his society, it's a "hanging fire" between suicide and intolerably changing world. To begin with, however, it is important to identify what is meant by the term "capitalist system". ...read more.

Middle

Loman has been unable to learn that business ethics, the morality of his work-community oppose the traditions he assumed were still in action: the personal ethics of honour. Willy also has his own, distinct perception of success. For him it is all about money and being "well-liked". That is how he saw Dave Singleman and assumed this was a perfect ideal of success, which he, himself, could achieve becoming a salesman. He imagines that pursuing the same career in the same merchandise field, he will be just like Dave Singleman: "Without ever leaving his room, at the age of eighty-four, make his living". His dream was to prove himself within the capitalist system, which requires a person to be determined, strong-willed and work hard to get his commissions. What Willy failed to realise is that there was no job satisfaction in what he did. Loman family "don't in the nuthouse of a city", they "should be mixing cement on some open plain" as Biff says, not boxed in an office or even travelling on the roads as a salesman. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, Willy Loman was worth more dead than a life, and this is perhaps the true tragedy of a man. Willy Loman, happened to be living in the times of great changes with which he was not able to keep up, both physically and mentally. He desperately tries to integrate, but he was left behind the modern world. Unable to control his senses of past and present, mixing and confusing the two, Willy fails to see the flawed nature of the system he functions in. He follows wrong dreams and ideas, which are mainly imposed upon him by the society, only to prove himself; nonetheless he is "crushed" by the unjust, competitive culture. And in addition, his personal failures add to the self-perceived wasted life of a "common man". 1. C.W.E. Bigsby: "A critical introduction to Twentieth-century American Drama"; Volume One 1900-1940 2. York Notes Advanced: "Death of a salesman, Arthur Miller"; editor: Adrian Page, 1998 3. Stratford-upon-Avon Studies: "American Theatre"; general editors: John Russel Brown, Bernard Harris, 1967 ...read more.

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