• 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. Quotes from All My Sons

    for them "for you, a business for you" "She finds herself reaching out for the glass of water and asprin"p109 Causes a mental and physical deterioration for Kate "Oh my God"p166 Refuses to believe her son is dead despite all the evidence "I'd hoped that if I waited, mother would

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

    and: "Ben, he'll worship me for it!"'?. He spots the potential in Biff and then begins to live his failed dreams through Biff. He puts a lot of pressure on Biff to succeed. This damages their relationship and may also have resulted in Biffs kleptomaniac tendencies (possibly a sign of rebellion).

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

    Willy cannot understand or accept Biff's rejection of capitalist values. As a child Willy worshipped Biff, because of his athletic abilities and good looks. He lavished all his praise on Biff and preached the American Dream at him daily, to the point of ignoring the need for academic achievement.

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

    Willy?s dream is coming apart, and Happy and Biff have dented it more than any other. For Biff, the experience of finding out the truth about himself and the fact that he is not a salesman for Bill Oliver, makes him even more determined to crack the lies that surround him, at any cost.

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

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

    where the problem lies; Willy is in a state where even something so personal as his own thoughts are alien to him. Willy has lost touch with himself, and is preoccupied with trying to define who, exactly, the Willy of the first line is.

  2. Explore the ways in which Miller uses symbolism to emphasise the tragedy in Death ...

    The setting created by Miller corresponds with Aristotle?s unity of place, stating that ?a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography.? This appropriately fits within the Aristotelian model as it focuses less on the power of external conflicts, but rather the intrinsic and non-progressive world view Willy is unable to escape from.

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