• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

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? 'Death of a Salesman' deals with many modern issues appropriate to the genre of tragedy. Materialism is an issue presented in the play as a flaw of the main character Willy Loman, who not only is far too materialistic, but places material importance on the wrong things. This is partly owing to the issue of consumerism, which has permeated his beliefs and actions. Willy Loman also procrastinates as a theme throughout the play, in various detrimental ways. The play presents Willy Loman as both the cause and casualty of alienation. All four issues are presented as societal products of the illusory American Dream and flawed American culture, and although none of them are the focus of the play, they pervade it significantly from beginning to end. Willy Loman could have attained happiness by following his dreams and doing something he was good at, like his father and brother did. Aside from being obvious that Willy is not happy or successful in his current occupation, it is expressed that Willy wishes he had gone with Ben to Alaska when he had the chance. ...read more.

Middle

The play tackles the issue of consumerism in its treatment of the 'American Dream' and the sadness it expresses in its degeneration. Through Willy Loman, Miller complains how America has taken the 'American Dream' too far and fallen victim to consumerism, losing the original values and ethics of the ideal in translation. The 'American Dream' was the aim to achieve wealth and status by only hard work and faith - the aim of a society in which everyone had the same starting line in the race to success. Miller points out the stark reality that success actually relies on solid results, a reality which Charley and his son understand and consequently, flourish. Bernard concentrates his energies on studying as he knows this is what will help him make an impact in the business world, unlike Biff and Happy who have been taught by Willy that how they are "well-liked" and "built like Adonises" will see them through. Willy Loman fails to realise that times have changed since the days when the frontiersmen - salesman - sold their personalities, not their goods, and made their living on the basis of their personal charisma. Confirming this, Charley tells Willy that "The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. ...read more.

Conclusion

He turns to the fantasy of his dead brother Ben for advice, further portraying his growing alienation from reality. The play shows Willy's alienation to be a result of the American Capitalist system having turned its back on him and also his own personal flaws. Willy's alienation spreads to his two sons, who have been instilled with their father's flawed moral values. Willy's chauvinistic attitude and lack of respect for his wife is evident in Happy, who uses women to the point that sleeping with them "gets like bowling" and "doesn't mean anything". He refers to women as "gorgeous creatures". Willy's condoning of Biff's petty thieving as a boy led to his implied kleptomania and eventual jail sentence as a grown man. The brothers are both alienated from society in their defective behaviour and the temporary nature of their livelihoods. Both boys are not content with their lives. Happy is referred to as a "philandering bum" and Biff especially is "like a boy", unable to settle down and grasp some direction or security. 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. ...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)

    One critic thought, "Willy worked for others all his life... yet all this added up to was the opportunity to throw it away". 3I believe this is an aspect of a tragic hero because his overall intentions were good, he worked hard to provide for his family, yet the dream

  2. Quotes from All My Sons

    to confront his wife so he becomes alienated from his son Chris knows Keller is "no worse than no men. I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father"p168 Cylinder heads cause break with Chris and tragedy "I suspected my father

  1. In the light of critical opinions discuss Millers exploration of the American Dream in ...

    (Page 99 Act 2). Miller is perhaps suggesting that economic instability results in the repression of individuality. Willy pins all his hopes on Biff. 'Willy Loman suddenly sees how deeply his own son could care for him. This discovery pushes him to the final extreme of his illusion, crying out: 'That boy - that boy is going to be magnificent!'

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

    Once again Miller is showing how although Biff is tortured he has some dignity through working on the land, by doing honest and dignified work. Miller shows us that if one rejects the superficial ideals of capitalism, then you can find dignity in hard work and as such revel in self actualisation.

  1. An Analysis of the Dramatic Impact of the Restaurant Scene in Death of a ...

    He is in an emotional breakdown, and needs Biff and Happy to give him confidence, as he knows he is not liked anymore, and he knows it better than anybody. Eventually we see the state of abandonment as before, when Biff and Happy reject him.

  2. Explore the theme of Dreams and Escapism within Death of a Salesman and Road

    The language within Road, particularly within the monologues, does not provide a realistic representation of the characters typical vernacular which is usually gutter language. This is used to create a contrast against themselves and their lives, another way to separate themselves from their reality.

  1. How are issues of personal dignity dramatically portrayed in Death of a Salesman?

    As mentioned above in the definition of dignity, Willy doesn't have a high position, and therefore cannot have dignity from his job? Aristotle said that "dignity consists not in possessing honours, but in the consciousness that we deserve them." Could it be that Willy is so obsessive over his dignity because he knows he doesn't deserve it?

  2. Miller presents Will Loman as a failure in many aspects of his life. To ...

    The play largely centres around Willy's perception of the world, making the first line all the more significant: Willy is concerned mainly with himself, not with Linda or anyone else. That the first conversation they have in the play is partly about his "strange thoughts" further suggests that this is

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