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Themes in the play Death of a Salesman

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Themes in the play Death of a Salesman Throughout the play the Lomans, especially Willy, cannot distinguish between reality and illusion. This is the major underlying theme throughout the play and is also a source of conflict in the play. Willy cannot see who he and his sons are. He believes that they are great men who have what it takes to be successful and beat the business world. Unfortunately, he is mistaken. In reality, Willy and his sons are not, and cannot, be successful. We can see that this is true because Willy refuses to acknowledge that he is a fine carpenter and continues to persuade himself that he is a good salesman and so continues to live a life of lies, memories and dreams. ...read more.


He worked hard but not at the right things, this shows us that Willy is ignorant. Originally, Biff shared Willy's illusions of success and greatness, but by the end of the play he has become completely disillusioned. Once Biff comes to fully understand his place in life, he says to Willy, "I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you." Willy, however, has lived too long in his dreams and cannot understand what Biff is trying to say. If Willy had to face reality, he would then be forced to examine the affair he had in Boston, his philosophy, and all of his illusions. Instead, he prefers to live in the past. And now Biff, who is trying to confront the truth about himself, finds that he is completely unable to communicate with his father, unless it is on his terms. ...read more.


Howard, the young boss of Willy's company, represents the impersonal and ruthless nature of capitalist Enterprise. When Willy goes in to ask Howard if he can be transferred to a job in New York, Howard refuses to help him even though Willy has been working for the company for several decades and was good friends with his father. When Willy asks why he cannot be reassigned, Howard replies, "It's a business, kid, and everybody's gotta pull his own weight," thus demonstrating Howard's cold indifference to Willy's situation and concentration on profit. Inadequacy is another one of the themes in the play. Happy constantly feels that he is inadequate, but only because his father is constantly comparing him to Biff, Willy 'favourite'. So he comes up with stories of how he will get married and that he has lost weight, just so he can get some attention ahead of Biff. ...read more.

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