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

Themes in the play Death of a Salesman

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Death of a Salesman 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 GCSE Death of a Salesman essays

  1. Death Of A Salesman - Play Review.

    refuses makes us feel that Willy is almost lazy and seems unfazed by his situation.

  2. Death of the Salesman - Discuss the importance of the scene in which Howard ...

    This scene in Howard's office is the scene that we actually see Willy at work and how much he has failed as a salesman as he can't even self himself. Not only does he not sell himself for an office job he also gets fired altogether making a mockery out of his skill as a salesman.

  1. Death of a Salesman - review.

    Biff did not idolise his father anymore and called him a "fake" and a "phoney". Happy is the youngest son he is of low moral character; constantly with another woman, trying to find his way in life, even though he is confident he's on the right track.

  2. Failures in Death of a Salesman

    Another good example of poor morals is when Willy tells his sons to steal building material from the site near by. In Willy's life, therefore, there is a double standard which society has encouraged: proclaiming to his sons the virtues of clean living, friendliness, sportsmanship and honesty, his own life

  1. How are the themes brought up in "A death of a salesman" releveant to ...

    His father was like one of these pioneers and Ben referred to him as a "wild-hearted man". Also his brother Ben is like a pioneer, he is Willy,s idol. He went and explored new land and came back a successful rich man.

  2. Betrayed or Betrayer? Discuss theses two aspects of Willy Loman's character and comment on ...

    The symbol associated with this betrayal is the flute. Flute music is heard throughout the play at significant times during Willys daydreams. It illustrates his insecurities and remains us of betrayal. Ben tells Willy ' he (their farther) played the flute' Ben goes on to tell Willy of how they would 'stop in the towns and sell the flutes' and how their farther' with one gadget (he)

  1. Race for the Junkyard - review.

    trip, but when she asks him to tell her exactly the figures are a lot less, two hundred gross over the whole trip. This is obviously because he knows that he did not do as well as most salesmen would have done but he does not wish Linda to have a negative view of him as a businessman or husband.

  2. Death of a Salesman - plot summary

    "You - you gave her mama's stockings!" and this shows that he is heart broken, he then goes on to say, "don't touch me, you - liar" as he breaks into tears and leaves ignoring his father. " remember how they used to follow him around in high school?

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