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To what extent does the requiem in a Death of a Salesman enhance the tragedy?

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Introduction

?To what extent does the requiem enhance the tragedy? Consider in your answer the way in which tragedy is presented.? Arthur Miller?s ?Death of a Salesman? is regarded as one of the greatest modern day tragedies, however it could be seen that the requiem reduces the overall effect of the tragedy as it breaks the typical conventions of a Shakespearean tragedy which lessens the audiences sympathy. The protagonist Willy Loman has based his entire life upon materialism, therefore sympathy is creates when only his family attend his funeral as it highlights his lack of achievements. Sympathy is also directed to less likely characters such as Happy who is fixated upon following his father?s footsteps, and Linda who in particular is a vulnerable victim due to Willy?s decisions, although now liberated, it also emphasises how desperately sad and alone she now is. Miller uses the requiem as a structural device to allow Willy?s family to reflect upon his life and the external forces of society that they blame which provokes an understanding from the audience. On the other hand the requiem could be considered to be an anti-climax to the overall tragedy, as the protagonist?s ignorance to others is highlighted which makes the audience see the tragedy as self-inflicted. ...read more.

Middle

?I?m gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain[3].? This proves that Happy believes that he can make a success of himself where his father did not, the language used shows the determination of Happy as he feels he can proves the others wrong who did not believe in the American Dream. However it could also be seen that Happy may not actually believe in the American Dream as strongly as Willy, and this is his wish purely as a way of being respectful to his father as he knew this is what he would have wanted from his sons. Either way, this provokes emotions from the audience for Happy whether it is pity felt for him repeating his Father?s mistakes or respect from him commemorating Willy. It could be seen that Linda is particularly exposed as being a victim due to Willy?s decisions. Although she has been freed from his struggles, insanity and lies, she is now desperately alone. Miller uses further irony to create sympathy from the audience. ?First time in thirty-five years we were just about free and clear[4].? It makes the audience feel pity as Willy?s dream of success, has to an extent been granted, as there are no more money troubles for his family, this makes his suicide even more tragic as Linda will now ...read more.

Conclusion

The audience is able to feel sympathy for Biff as he finally understands his father?s problem of aspiring to unattainable goals. All those that attend the funeral search for reasons to blame Willy?s tragic suicide upon, they discuss the factor of external forces and how Willy was influenced by them easily. Willy aspires to be prosperous through his personality, and truly believes that this idea of the American Dream is achievable. However throughout the play, the other characters are not as obsessed with this ideal as the protagonist himself is, this singles Willy out as being the minority and therefore the tragedy may not have happened to anybody. This consequently creates an anti-climax, making the audience feel less sympathy for Willy as the intensity that makes an audience feel comfortable has been taken away. To conclude, the requiem could be seen to enhance the tragedy as it brings to light the harsh realities of Willy?s life, provoking sympathy from the audience because reasons for his behaviour are given. It is shown that Willy lived his life delusional due to his belief in the American Dream and he was unable to see what his life was really like. However in some respects highlighting his ignorance and failure could be seen to create an anti-climax, lessening the audience?s sympathy. Yet in my opinion this allows the audience?s sympathy to be directed to his family which enhances the tragedy similarly to a typical Shakespearean tragedy. ...read more.

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