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To what extent is ‘Death of a Salesman’ a criticism of the values of modern American society

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Introduction

Ed Daggett LVth 15th March 2001 To what extent is 'Death of a Salesman' a criticism of the values of modern American society Willy Loman is a true, patriotic American whose guiding philosophy is the American Dream. 'Death of a Salesman' shows how this dream does not always come true and what it can do to you. The American Dream is the base is the base on which the values of modern American society. It stems from Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, which basically implies that as an American, there is the promise of a new and better life. No matter you have emerged from, hard work, honesty and certainly ambition will lead to success, wealth and ultimately power. This is what Willy does; he has ambition, works extremely hard for himself and his family, but it hasn't paid off. 'Death of a Salesman' takes a pessimistic view, all the way through, of this dream, and shows that it doesn't always come true. The American 'Dream' is all it really is, a dream. But, the Americans who try to live out this dream become extremely competitive, greedy and selfish. This is the main criticism in the play. ...read more.

Middle

and "They should've had a law against apartment houses." It's simply not an easy environment to work in. If this happens to a businessman, it would obviously very quickly reflect onto his family. This is exactly what happens with Willy. The idea of family had been very central to the American Dream. The failure of Willy's family again makes him feel like a real nobody. So far, he has not been able to fill anything in the American dream. Willy wants his son, Biff, to do so much better than he, himself has done. Biff is very ungrateful and their relationship rapidly splits up. There is a big reason for this and that was the affair Willy had with a lady called Miss Francis, while working in Boston. Biff called Willy: "A phoney little fake" Another effect that occurs is the way Happy clearly mirrors Willy and he will probably go the same way and make the same mistakes, particularly with his attitude towards women. What I have to now consider is whether the play is only about these values. It is certainly mostly about these values, but it does go into the ignorance in Willy and his sons. I think the values do have some meaning because Charley, Bernard and Ben have all succeeded. ...read more.

Conclusion

If it hadn't been for her, the family would have broken apart years previous to when it finally did. How Linda put up with Willy amazed me. He would continuously bark on at her and dump his burdens on her. I think the affair with Miss Francis does criticise the values of society, because it only happened because of Willy's failure in his job. Willy puts it: "I was just so very lonely." I think the play was very original, especially it's structure. The recollections Willy has cannot be classed as 'flashbacks'. The original title was 'Inside his head'. The play all keeps going and there are very rarely new scenes. It is very smooth. Arthur Miller puts it: "There are no flashbacks in the play, but only a mobile concurrency of past and present...because in his desperation to justify his life, Willy Loman has destroyed the boundaries between now and then." In conclusion, 'Death of a Salesman' is mostly a criticism of the values of the values of modern American society. Willy's affair, the breakdown of his family, Biff's failure and Willy's near insanity are all caused by the bogus nature of the values. It is also a tragedy, goes into relationships and the wrong decisions Willy make. So it is not all criticising the values and this was not Miller's sole intention in writing it. ...read more.

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