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To what extent can the 1950s American Capitalist society, almost be entirely to blame for Willy Loman's final predicament?

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Introduction

To what extent can the 1950s American Capitalist society, almost be entirely to blame for Willy Loman's ultimate predicament? Capitalism: the continual encouragement of wants and desires. This definition utterly epitomises the mental psyche of our unwilling protagonist, Willy Loman. Thrust into a constant strive for materialistic and unnecessary items; so typical of an individual embroiled within the prevailing consumerist attitudes of American society. Miller skilfully manipulates the character of Willy Loman into the embodiment of the archetypal white collar American, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the play and completely connect with Willy Loman. Miller is desperately holding up a mirror to the society which surrounds him through his anti-hero, allowing the audience to gain a sudden realisation their dreams are indeed false, predominately that of the 'American Dream' which is just that: simply a dream. Willy Loman himself exasperatedly confers to his son 'Its the only dream you can have'. The dream is simply a twisted example of propaganda which is avidly encouraged as part of the shared value consensus of the middle class American suburbia and is therefore a status greatly admired and sought after. ...read more.

Middle

Granted, the system of Capitalism is, on the whole, a just mechanism of self empowerment allowing upward mobility and achievement. However, this will ultimately produce an underclass of individuals who are disenfranchised and have to use other means to obtain power and self-esteem. This point leads me on too Willy's low self-esteem generated by the egregious machine of capitalism. Willy Loman's low opinion of himself is undoubtedly due to the many complications which he experiences in his life most notably his distressed finances which culminates in the over-riding factor in his decision making. Most eminently his many material possessions are all derived from 'hire purchase', in essence Willy never truly owns any of his possessions outright which causes illusions of grandeur and empowerment all fuelled by the competitive desire of capitalism. One of the ultimate decisions for Willy choosing to commit suicide was to show his sons the unadulterated popularity which his customers held for him from all over the country; of course this was just a wild assumption that on Willy's half. However, it is the dream that causes these drastic disillusionments of his avid popularity. ...read more.

Conclusion

This conflict between father and son is by far the most crucial, heart-rending climax of the play. Willy is almost trying to live his life through Biff; an ever-present theme relevant to capitalist system, Willy craves this after his utter failure in life. Biff wishes to break free of his father restraint however he is morally and emotionally bound to his father, similar to that of characters in Modern Domestic Tragedy's vying and manoeuvring for respect and control. Ultimately Willy's need for self-validation is a critical point for explaining not only his affair but his other imaginings. Not only that but his feeling of failure in his upbringing of his sons and how they don't fit into the archetypal sons of the 'American Dream'. Miler uses this to show the humanity of the situation and how one man can't be expected to achieve a capitalist perfection; this relates to Modern Domestic Tragedy in that the protagonists are merely common, ordinary people, to convey the universality of the themes which the tragedy explores. As opposed to that of Aristotelian Tragedies of old, which, despite handling epic, age old themes, become less relevant to those under the upper class, propelling Millers creation into the public domain and effectively dealing with the capitalist system of the time. ...read more.

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